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  • Robert Fromberg

The Time I Poisoned my Mother | By Robert Fromberg

I get a chemistry set. I am a little overwhelmed by the powders and equipment and instructions. I find a simple experiment that involves combining two white powders in water to create a red liquid.

That evening, I am watching TV and my dad appears in the living room. He is holding a white plastic cup like the one I used for the experiment. “This cup was in mom’s bathroom. Did you use it for anything?”

“Maybe it’s the one I used for my experiment.” We have several of these cups, and I have no memory of where I put the cup I used.


I remind Dad about the new chemistry set.

“Well, your mom is very sick.” I realize that I can hear her now, upstairs, down the hall, faintly, vomiting. I imagine her face as it rises from the toilet, pale, hurt, but not surprised.

I am silent.

“I think you poisoned your mother.” He pauses. “Well, yes, I guess that’s the word. Poisoned.”

I consider this as a sentence: “I poisoned my mother.” Yes, I suppose that I have. I assume that, although I don’t remember putting the cup in her bathroom, I did it purposefully, the intended target my mom.

Upstairs, I see Mom in the doorway to my parents’ bedroom, her face looking exactly as I had imagined. She seems not to recognize me.


Robert Fromberg has prose in (or forthcoming in) Hobart, Bitchin' Kitsch, Drunk Monkeys, and elsewhere. His memoir is forthcoming from Latah Books. Once upon a time he taught writing at Northwestern University. Twitter and IG: @robfromberg

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