Mom says it’s okay, but it’s not okay — the way people look at her like she’s a puzzle set without the box. She says cerebral palsy and I say mom, you’re mom. Well I’m that too, she says.
I’m four years old and the lady behind the checkout counter at Lucky’s scans our groceries. When mom asks her about her day, the lady looks at me instead like she’s stuck in mud and needs me to save her. I stare back blankly and we all go silent as she scans a carton of eggs and eventually the rest of our food. When we get to the car, I ask mom what was wrong with her. Nothing, mom says, she was tired.
We’re at the airport. The man checking our tickets talks to mom like she’s a baby and asks if she has someone here to walk on the plane with her. I give him a nasty look and mom says it’s okay. When we finally take our seats, she says that good people exist. I say that’s fine, but people could be better.
We’re at home and I’m in bed. Mom just read to me and she says good night. She turns out the light and her fingernails begin to glow. I ask her how she does that, and she says she’s an alien and that’s why people don’t always understand her. I sit up and hold her hands. That means I’m half-alien, I say. That’s right, she says.
I’m at daycare and mom comes to pick me up. My friend sees her and asks why she walks and talks like that. I tell him it’s because we’re aliens. He says that’s awesome. You should see her hands in the dark, I say, I’m just waiting for mine to glow too.
Based currently in California, Anthony Gibson is a writer, filmmaker, and recipient of a Chicago DCASE Cultural Grant. In 2020, he was selected as an inaugural fellow in the Chicago Independent Producers Lab. You can find him on twitter @anthjgibson.
Photography by: Nathan Dumlao