Gold is Thicker Than Motherhood

My mother was one of those too famous people that gets a museum dedicated to them after they die. It’s nice. Fancy. Big. A bit much really, but she would’ve liked that.

I never understood her work, but other people did. Or if they didn’t, they liked to pretend they did. People, so many people, would come up to me when she was alive and say how lucky I was to have access to an incredible woman every day. What do you say to that? I never knew. I would flip-flop between awkward but polite smiles or ambiguous shrugs. It’s easier now that she’s dead. A blank face isn’t rude, now that she’s dead.

I suppose I’m a bit boring compared to her. A bit plain. Bland. Bleh. People seem disappointed when they meet me. I can’t tell them anything about her they would want to hear. I’m not interesting enough to talk about anything else.

I like to think I’m nicer than she was. But is being passive the same as being nice? If I don’t do anything and hurt no one, is that better than doing everything while hurting myself and others along the way? I don’t know. I’m nothing like her. I’m nothing at all. I have no siblings, so I don’t know whether that’s my fault or hers.

Sometimes I feel like the only impact I’ll ever have on the world is this museum. I didn’t design it or build it. It wasn’t even my idea to have it in the first place. But I did one thing: I got to choose the piece that would be featured the most. As “the person closest to her,” I got to pick her masterpiece.

So, I chose the only one she did about me.

I don’t understand it. At least, I don’t understand why people love it. It’s mainly white, untouched. You notice the red splattering across from two opposite corners before you catch the watermarks dotted around. Okay. Interesting enough. She called it Motherhood. Ah. The blood, sweat, and tears that go into being a mother. Suddenly a piece that could be recreated by a child becomes an ingenious work of art.

Except that it’s her blood. This bit is public knowledge. She used her actual blood. In one go. It’s a big canvas. She went to the hospital. Caused quite a stir at the time. Started a cult following that eventually led to critical acclaim. 

What isn’t public knowledge is that the two corners of blood splatter are not the same person’s blood. See, my mother thought for Motherhood she needed a piece of the thing that made her a mother. So, the top corner of red spraying down is her. The bottom corner spraying up is me.

I go to the museum sometimes to watch people watch Motherhood. I want to see if the truth ever crosses their mind. But they just stare in awe.

At least I charged them for their ignorance.

Natasha Ali

Natasha Ali is a biologist that recently finished her master's in human genetics. She plans to work in the real world as a research assistant for a psychiatric genetics lab before she dives back into academia to get her PhD. While she loves her work as a scientist, she also has a strong passion for reading and writing. In particular, she adores gothic literature and, moving forward as a writer, she would love to blur the lines between the gothic and sci-fi genres to delve into the bioethical questions she's been surrounded with during her studies.

Hailey Brown

Hailey Renee Brown (Ren) is a professional illustrator born and raised in mid Michigan. A former field biologist, they moved across the country from Michigan to Pennsylvania, also moving from science to commercial art. A professionally trained artist, they attended the Joe Kubert School of Cartoon and Graphic Art in Dover, NJ, where they were selected the recipient of the 2017 Norman Maurer Memorial Award as well as the 2019 Joe Kubert Jumpstart Project. They have since worked for a variety of clients from Dark Horse Comics and Dynamite Entertainment to the Brink Literacy Project.