Dino’s Mom and Me
Dino died when he was twenty-six. We were not boyfriend and girlfriend anymore, but we had been, at thirteen, at fifteen, and at twenty-six, and might have been at some point again. But then he crashed his car into a house and it all burned.
At Dino’s Mom’s house, the television turned itself on, the lights turned themselves off; At my apartment, the television turned itself on, the door unlocked itself every night, and four people heard footsteps come up the stairs.
We knew it was Dino talking to us, me and Dino’s Mom did. Oh we knew. And it helped us to the death of person who had been too alive to die, but still did. They buried him just a few stones from Sam Giancana. That’s how you find him: look for Sam.
We both left notes there; I saw hers, and she saw mine. She called me to talk about sausage and sauce, about her circus performer relatives—high-wire—about how her husband had once left for years, but she let him come back but she was still pissed. I could hear her inhale.
Dino’s Mom had plenty of children and grandchildren then, and yet she found room for me because I had loved her son. And because, I know, I was an artifact of his life. She sat on her pink couch, atop her pink carpet and spoke. She was blunt. She yelled when she was mad. She told my children to call her grandma. And they did.
Dino’s Mom died when she was ninety-five. We were no longer embroiled—she’d moved to Florida–but we had been. Oh, how we had been. We waited at night for the electric ghost who flipped on the television, who unlocked the front door, who my three-year-old daughter said, “told her things.”
Dino’s Mom and me. We believed; we really did. But now she’s gone.
Christina Marrocco is a professor of English at Elgin Community College, Elgin, Illinois. She teaches Advanced Fiction and Poetry Writing, Literature, and Composition courses. Her focus on ethnicity in America combined with personal experience growing up in a working class Italian-American environment inform much of her creative and research work. Her dissertation work is on The Evil Eye in Italian-American Fiction, and her narrative poetry appears in The Laurel Review and Silverbirch Press.