Jennifer Greenberg

“Step on the crack, you’ll break your mother’s back.” Simple. Trite. To the point. The principles of the adage are so clear-cut, imprinted in pavement like the sole of a work boot in wet concrete. To me, it makes perfect sense. Yet, to Liam, the product of an act of unforgiveable adultery, fails to comprehend the simple statement.

He trudges heavily through the wet Westmount streets, ignoring the fissures traced into each block of sidewalk. They hide beneath a thin layer of ice, yet exist nonetheless. I am tired of spoon-feeding him what he calls my “stupid superstitions,” followed by the odd “dumb-dumb” or “baby.” So instead of exploding and giving him the temper tantrum he so desires, I melt into myself like snow in the rain.

What does he care anyways? He doesn’t have a mother, he has MY mother. He launches a wet snowball towards the back of my head and runs ahead through the January thaw.

“Step on the crack, you’ll break your mother’s back,” I yelled into the stillness.

Liam stops at Roslyn Schoolyard to catch his breath and wait for his stepsister, trailing behind on Cote St. Antoine. Her words wisp up in the violent winds. The syllables catch up to Liam one by one and tickle his left ear. They taunt him with empty threats: “Step on the crack, you’ll break you mother’s back.”

What do I care, she’s already dead, Liam thinks to himself, hiding his tears behind raindrops.

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