The Doughnut in a Pinch

Wednesday 4 November 2009, by Franck Garot

Caryn is looking at me, unless she is Maureen, I can’t tell them apart, she glares at me because she doesn’t like my answer, although, in any case, she wouldn’t have liked any other. My daughters reject and criticize everything I say, incessantly reproaching me for their not having a father – it’s my fault. They think that I decided that they wouldn’t have a father, while still I don’t know how I could have Powdered Donut No. 4 by Abbey Ryan gotten pregnant, and I am not ashamed to say I am convinced that I didn’t sleep with anyone at that time, finding myself too fat, boring and therefore too ugly to be of interest to decent boys; and to have, in a moment of weakness, confided this to my daughters, they consider me a nut case, calling me the virgin Mary. Is it possible to have such a relationship with one’s mother? When in any case this mother would be incapable of distinguishing the twin girls that she gave birth to and whose father is unknown? A father who, no matter who he is, would he be able to distinguish one from the other, himself? Would he be able to say with any certainty what differentiates the girls since they are continually changing? Because they do change, I am sure of it. I had made note of a beauty mark on the right cheek of Maureen. Today that beauty mark is on the left cheek of Caryn. Caryn was in the habit of tucking behind her left ear, the hair that was always falling in her face. Maureen now has this habit, but with the right ear. Maureen used to like glazed doughnuts unlike Caryn who now likes them. They are planning to drive me crazy. I believe that they are conspiring with the furniture. The armchair in which I am sitting, for example, as I was reading when they came to ask me who knows what. This comfy old chair always greeted me with kindness, that cuddled me very often, and well, it’s with them from now on: it now hurts my back, it moves ever so slightly when I leave the room, and it changes color. I’m not saying that it changes from green to orange, no, its change is more nuanced, insidiously, just enough for me to notice it and just too little for me to report it. I forget about the question that my daughter asked and the answer that earned me her glare. She shakes a Dunkin Donuts bag under my nose. Maybe she’s upset with me for not ordering the variety she wanted? So, Caryn looks at me. Unless she’s Maureen. It’s of little importance since they are both in front of me. The one who isn’t looking at me is staring at her feet. Initially, it was Maureen who was the most shy, now I’m sure of nothing. The only thing of which I am certain today is that they both despise me maniacally. My daughter gives up glaring at me, I now find some irony in the way she looks at me, and I await something treacherous as I sink down into my armchair which pushes me away gently but firmly. I tell you, that chair is on their side.
She declares “Your brain looks like a doughnut – with a big hole in the middle”. I don’t get where she is coming or going with this doughnut metaphor. So, I opt for indifference, which disappoints her. She announces “We’ve found Dad. He lives in Manhattan.” Then she tells me that they met him six months ago, and that they’ve been seeing him regularly since – that he has become someone important on Wall Street; that he has never been able to tolerate that I hid their birth from him; that he would have married me; that we would have been a family, but it’s too late now, he no longer wants to see me, but he does want to see his girls.

She stops to analyze the effect of their words by the look on my face. Many seconds pass. She seems satisfied with the result. She says to me “Mom, we are 15, we have the right to decide, and we want to live with him, and he is OK with it.” My eyes fill with tears and I scream out “be quiet!” I am not screaming because they want to leave, but because I still have no idea who they could be talking about. Who is it? Who is your father? I was too fat and too ugly to have slept with anyone. How can I make you understand, Caryn?
Unless you’re Maureen.

Translation by Sharon Bardfield-Phillips.
Published 4 November 2009 in Vers minuit

Any message or comments?

Who are you?
Your post
  • To create paragraphs, just leave blank lines.