Sometimes things between a mother and daughter can get
Sticky
I screamed at Mother as she screamed at me. As usual, our entire neighbourhood hid into their pencil cases while they peeked at us through the zips. It wasn’t easy having a stapler for a mother. Especially when you’re a sticky notepad.
“Listen, kid. What you did back there was really out of line!”
“No it wasn’t, Mother! Why can’t you just trust me?”
“Your sticky notes are gonna fall off Ms. Paper in about a day. You should’ve let me staple you!”
“She asked for my help. I can do it myself, I’m super sticky.”
“But my staples can make your notes stay for longer!”
I ended it there with a huff before trudging off into my pencil case. Eraser gave me an apologetic look as I lay flat in the corner.
“Thank goodness Mother isn’t small enough to come in here. It’s already crowded enough,” I muttered. “Thanks to Pencil and her twelve cousins.”
“You know, she’s just looking out for you.” Eraser laid down next to me.
“Yeah but like, I can do what she can do. She just doesn’t trust me. Just doesn’t, like, appreciate the work I do.”
I turned away from Eraser. Was he my friend? I wasn’t sure.
“I’m just gonna go to bed. G’night Eraser.”
I heard him sigh before settling down next to me. A tear slid down my square, yellow face as I thought about Mother. She was probably sleeping next to Computer. Was she crying like I was?
I stared at the corner of the pencil case until it became all fuzzy. Thoughts swirled through my mind. I wasn’t sorry for what I did. Mother still thought of me as a kid, even though I’ve been in this pencil case, on this desk, in this house for what, 17 years now?
The tears kept on coming. This is so silly, I thought to myself. This is nothing to cry about. It just feels like I’m stuck in a box. Mother’s the box.
Light shone through the thin fabric of the case as Eraser nudged me awake. I yawned before waddling outside on my two corners, careful not to wake Ruler and Scissors. As always, Mother was already up. I walked past her and sat down on the edge of the desk.
“You’re not gonna say good morning?” Mother frowned.
“Okay, okay! Good morning!” Seriously? I just got up and she already had to make things difficult?
Mother didn’t say anything for a while. Eventually I got up. Computer asked me yesterday to leave a note on the bulletin board to remind him to update. I trudged towards the cushioned board and ripped off a sticky note.
“Let me do it!” Mother rushed over and grabbed me. Her staples ripped into the notes that were still stuck on my body, tearing holes.
“Stop! Just stop! It hurts!” I rushed away from her, almost crying. She gasped at me, her eyes widening.
“I’m sorry! Baby, I’m so sorry! Please, forgive me, I’m so sorry!”
I sighed before reaching up towards the board. “Whatever. Just let me stick it on.”
“Wait, but.” She tried grabbing my note again, her sharp staples glinting in the desk light.
“Whatever! Just...just listen. I can stick my notes by myself. I don’t need you. So stop wanting to staple my notes!” I screamed while scrambling away from her reach. Why didn’t she understand?
“Please! You don’t understand.” Mother cried at me, trying to inch closer. Were those really tears falling from her eyes? Was that really regret in her voice? Because good. That’s what she deserved. I turned away from her and jumped off the desk.
“Where are you going?!” She followed me every step, as always.
“Don’t follow me.” I stalked out of the office after snapping at her. One of my notes scrunched up in anger. I pushed all the other objects out of the way as I stomped my way into the living room, leaving Mother behind.
She was so infuriating!
I glowered and trudged around the coffee table. How overbearing!
“Is there something wrong, child?” A strange, muffled sounding voice rang out across the room. It sounded like it came from above.
“Um...who is this?”
“Up here, child. On the coffee table.” The voice sounded friendly enough. I jumped onto a fallen cushion and shimmied my way up onto the sofa. It was high enough for me to see who was speaking.
“Oh. Hey Telephone. Sir.” I added. Of all my years here, I had never seen him, let alone talk to him. But he had a big reputation, since he was the oldest one in the house.
“Well, well, looks like we have young Miss Sticky Notepad.” Telephone boomed. There was something about him that was almost...majestic.
“Hi.” I answered feebly.
“What’s wrong, child?”
The question caught me off guard. “Wha-? Nothing.”
“Then why were you stomping around the coffee table?”
I sighed before slumping down on the sofa. “I don’t know. Just letting off steam.”
“Mm-hm. So let me ask you again. What’s wrong, child?”
I sighed again. For some reason, I was compelled to tell him everything. “Well. I don’t know, it’s just been tough for me lately.”
“Continue.”
“Well, like, I just...just...” I gazed towards the office door. Was Mother still standing there on the desk, waiting for me to come back?
Telephone chuckled. “Family problems?”
“Wha...how did you know?”
He didn’t answer me. “You know, your Mother has always been a caring one. Always looking out for others. Always...misunderstood.”
“Misunderstood?” I spluttered. “Mother, misunderstood?” I was the misunderstood one, not her.
Telephone rang with laughter. “Yes! You’re just like her, child.”
“Pft, no I’m not. We’re the complete opposite.”
“Hm. No, I don’t think so. Let me tell you a story about your Mother when she was about your age.” Telephone paused as I stifled a groan. “Just listen, child! Do you know who your grandmother is? She died before you were born.”
“Um, I think Mother told me about her once. She didn’t seem to like her much.”
“That’s right, your Mother didn’t like her very much. Your grandma was a role of Sticky Tape. And frankly, Madam Sticky Tape didn’t appreciate the work your Mother did! Your grandmother was always trying to tape the sheets of paper your Mum would try to staple. She never seemed to trust your Mum. She always thought her way of doing things was the right way.”
“Exactly!” I exclaimed. “That’s exactly what Mother is doing to me!”
“But no, child!” Telephone boomed in anger. “It is not true. Your Mother trusts you, and she doesn’t think her way of doing things is necessarily right.”
“...what?”
“You both misunderstand each other. She cares for you, but she doesn’t see that you’re all grown up now. At the end of the day, she loves you. You love her too, right?”
There was complete silence for a while as I stared hard at the floor. What Telephone said made sense. But...it was still hard to accept. “Well, if the same thing happened to her, and she didn’t like it, why is she doing it to me?”
“Why don’t you ask her yourself, child?”
I looked up at Telephone. His old, weary self seemed to regain its youth as he smiled at me. “...thanks, Telephone.”
I jumped off of the sofa and walked towards the dining room. I needed time to think. Why would Mother do the same thing to me? Can I really forgive her?
I sat down in the corner of the room and curled up tightly.
“Oh. Hey Sticky Notepad.” I looked up to see Pen peering down at me. Her voice was still as annoying as always.
“What are you doing here?” I grumbled.
“What? I can’t visit the dining room once in a while?” She scoffed before sashaying away. I glared at her thin figure. She caused me so much pain when I was little. I leaned back against the wall as a memory suddenly came to me.
*
“Do I have to go to school today?” My tiny, 6 year old self whined at Mother.
“Don’t worry. I’ll be right here when school finishes, okay? It’s alright, darling.” She held my face lovingly and kissed me on the forehead.
“Well, okay.” I pouted. “But you better be here when school finishes!”
She laughed a hearty laugh and nodded. “Of course.” I gave her a hug and sped off to class. Everyone was buzzing inside. I plonked my bag down next to my desk as the teacher waltzed in.
“Okay class, let’s get started!” Ms Highlighter snapped, an impatient look on her face. Everyone settled down and sat in their seats. “Okay, first lesson. We’re going to practice our skills today. Who wants to start?”
Pen immediately raised her hand. “Okay, Pen. Come on up!”
Pen walked to the front of the class, and took off her cap. She started drawing neat strokes onto a piece of paper that the teacher provided. “Very good, Pen!” Ms Highlighter beamed in pride as Pen smirked and walked back to her seat. “Who wants to go next?”
I raised my corner eagerly. “Sticky Notepad, come on up. Let’s see how well you can stick your notes on this time.” I grinned and ran to the front. I had spent all morning practicing sticking my notes. “Well, go on.” Ms Highlighter urged.
I slowly peeled off a sticky note and raised it towards the blackboard. It stuck on perfectly as I smoothed it out. “Yay!” I squealed and turned around to face the class. Suddenly, everyone bursted into laughter. My grin faded as I turned around. The note had fallen off the blackboard.
Ms Highlighter picked it up with a disappointed look on her face. “It’s not sticky at all, Sticky Notepad! You have to keep practicing. Do better next time.” My head drooped as I tried hard not to cry. Everyone was still laughing. I walked back to my seat, wishing I could disappear.
The rest of the day passed by quickly, and soon it was time to go home. As the bell rang, I sighed and trudged out of the classroom. I was still disappointed in myself.
“Hey, loser!” I turned around to see who was speaking. It was Pen and her bunch of bullies. “You’re so pathetic! Everyone in the class can use their skills, except for you!”
I felt a lump in my throat. Nearly everyone had moved to the front of the school to get picked up, so it was only them and I in the hallway.
“Well? Aren’t you going to say anything? What a loser!”
Tears started trickling down my face. Pen laughed and pointed at me, her shrill voice digging into my brain. “You’re so stupid, Sticky Notepad. You can’t even stick your notes on!” All her friends repeated what she said.
“You can’t stick your notes on, you loser.”
“You’re so pathetic, your notes aren’t sticky!”
“You sad little thing, can’t even stick your-“
“Excuse me?!” Suddenly, a very familiar voice boomed in the hallway. “You girls are being very rude. Apologise to my daughter right now!”
I turned around and saw Mother with her staples bared. Pen faltered, but didn’t say anything. “Apologise to her right now. You have no right to say that. I’m going to call your parents tonight.”
I groaned and walked away, pulling Mother with me. It was already embarrassing enough. “Mother, stop!” I hissed. “Now’s not the time!” She looked at me in surprise, but I kept pulling her away, leaving Pen behind. We got to the front of the school before she stopped me.
“Sticky Notepad...thank goodness I came looking for you.”
My face crinkled up and I started sobbing. She kneeled and hugged me, her soothing voice repeating the words, “it’s okay.” After a while, Mother let go of me and looked me in the eyes. “Listen, child. You may not be able to stand up to them, and you may not want me to stand up to them, but remember that I’ll always be there for you. I’ll always help you. You don’t have to worry about not being able to stick on your notes, okay?”
*
My eyes snapped open. That must’ve been it. That must’ve been the reason why! My face broke into a grin as I stood up from the corner. This was my chance to fix things. I ran back towards the office. Mother was still in the exact same spot on the desk when I left her.
“There you are! I was so worried about you! Door told me you were talking to Telephone though...sweetie, are you okay?”
I clambered up onto the desk, and stood there, looking at her. As her tired eyes gazed back at me, I realised how much she’s done for me. I realised how our relationship was damaged through a simple thing.
“Mother, let’s talk.”
“Of course.” She smiled.
We both sat down on the desk. All the other pieces of stationery were busy carrying out their daily workload and living their lives.
“When I was talking to Telephone, he told me something important,” I sighed before continuing. “Did you and Grandma fight like we do now?”
Mother looked at me in surprise. Her eyes started to tear up. I kept talking. I still had to ask her, to show her. “Apparently you did. I just wanted to ask why? Why do you do the same to me if you didn’t like it when it was done to you?”
She still stared at me, but the look of surprise was replaced with sadness. “Um, Mum?” Suddenly she bursted into tears. Uncontrollable sobs shook her frail body. I put my corners around her, and pulled her in close. “Mother, are you okay?”
“I’m so sorry! I’m so sorry, my beautiful daughter.” She gasped in between sobs.
“It’s okay, Mother. It’s okay. I understand now.”
After a while, she calmed down and leaned against me.
“Listen, Sticky Notepad. Being a mother is hard. I didn’t know what I was getting myself into! Every time your grandmother and I had a fight, I swore to never be like her. I promised myself I would be better. But I think it’s only now, when it’s too late, that I understand what your grandmother felt.”
Mother sat up and faced me, a serious look on her face. “I just want you to be okay. My love for you is bigger than the universe. I care for you, but maybe a little too much. I’m sorry for that. That’s what your grandmother felt too. It’s an indescribable feeling, but you’ll understand when you become a mother yourself. You’ll do anything for your children. Even though I promised myself to not be like your grandmother, I still made the same mistake. I’m so, so sorry for that. I just love you so much, and I don’t want to ever lose you.”
“Mother...I know now.” I gazed at Mother as I saw how much love she had for me. If only I talked to her, explained to her how I felt...
“Child, from now on, you do you. Be whoever you want to be. Use your own skills. Okay? I will be with you every step of the way, but...from the bleachers from now on, okay? Let’s learn from both of our mistakes.” Mother smiled at me as I pulled her close for a hug. What a great woman she was.
“Thanks for everything, Mother. I love you.”
“I love you too.”
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