Mom’s Girdle: A Micro Story

We’d like to thank Ann Hultburg of the USA for her Micro Fiction submission ‘Mum’s Girdle’. Based on true events ‘Mom’s Girdle’ is a story written by a mum about her mum.

Ann Hultberg of Western PA and Southwest Fla is a retired high school English teacher and currently an adjunct composition instructor at the local university. She writes nonfiction stories about her family, especially focusing on her father’s escape from Budapest, Hungary, to the United States. Her essays have been accepted by Persimmon Tree, Dream Well Writing, Drunk Monkeys, The Drabble, The Story Pub, Kindred VoiceFevers of the Mind, Mothers Always Write, Elixir Magazine, The Ekphrastic Review, and Moonchild Magazine. You can follow Ann on Facebook at ‘60 and writing‘ and @Hajdu on Twitter.

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Mom’s Girdle

Mom was always losing or fighting with her 18-hour Playtex girdle. It seemed as if this contraption had a mind of its own, wanting to be seen, calling attention to itself, almost like a neon light flashing from a bar window. The trampoline-like material sucked in all the fat so clothes appeared smooth and seamless without the ripples of excess pounds. From waist to upper knee, this apparatus was popular with Mom in the 60s and 70s. Her belly was flattened and thighs were made to look slimmer, something she said she needed after birthing four kids.
The first time Mom lost a hold of her girdle was when she was out shopping, and the elastic, which had been shriveling on the waistband, probably from its years of wear, let loose. Like a broken rubber band snapping off a ponytail, the entire garment fell to her knees. Though in public, with many eyes upon her, mom simply shimmied the girdle down to her ankles, like a girl slinking down a fashion show runway; she peeled it off her ankles, and with a kick, tossed the girdle in the air like a spinning pizza crust. She grabbed at it and stuffed the undergarment in her purse as carefree as she would a wad of Kleenex. She continued on with her shopping.
Mom also had to be careful that her dresses weren’t too short or else the bottom few inches of the girdle would peek out from under the dress, the white contrasting against whatever colorful attire she wore, lest she have another embarrassing episode with the girdle exposed, like an exhibitionist flashing himself in public. Mon Dieu!
When her father died, my parents and we children were in the car on the way to his funeral. My then baby sister who was sitting on Mom’s lap (seatbelts and car seats weren’t required yet) had wet through her diaper and soaked Mom’s skirt and girdle. Off came both items—she held the underwear out the window, flapping like a starched flag, hoping the August sun would dry off its wetness. Beads of water clung to the fabric like a waterproof watch. As much as she shook the garment, the fabric refused to dry. Luckily the skirt dried in time for the funeral, but the girdle remained in the car — the punished step child left behind.
The things we remember from our childhood become the talk at the Thanksgiving table. We reminisce about mom’s girdle, dubbed her fifth child: unruly (falls apart), unyielding (holds in the fat), attention-seeking (an egoist). But hail to this piece of rubber that kept our mom, content and secure, in her hourglass figure.


Brevity: A Flash Fiction Handbook by David Galef


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