Sarah Fye – Starting

Here’s Sarah Fye with a humorous story about her relationship with her mother, told at January 2017’s theme “Starting.” 

I started to contemplate my word choices as I stood in my walk in closet covered head to toe in roughly 36 ounces of bright red cherry Sonic slushee. The other 12 ounces or so was splattered all over my clothing, shoes, and accessories. Only seconds after the freezing cold beverage came flying towards my head at lightning speed, I wiped the corn syrup and red number 40 infused beverage from my eyes to see my mom standing in the doorway of my bedroom with her hand on her hip. The words parted her lips like Moses parted the red sea, only this time the sea was made of frozen water, artificial flavors, and food coloring. Still, I’ll never forget the look in her eye when her message came through loud and clear.

“Clean it up.”

Now let me explain before you get the wrong idea. My mom is actually the best. She is in no way, shape, or form, a Mommy Dearest type. She is not a tyrant. In fact, she would go to the ends of the earth for anyone she loves.

She’s also a strong southern woman who doesn’t take any shit.

In reality, it was me who was the tyrant.

Imagine me, Sarah Fye, a 17 year old girl with a wild heart and adventurous spirit. Imagine also, me with quite the attitude. And lastly, imagine me, a 17 year old girl with a wild spirit and quite the attitude, living with full on teenage angst and residing with a mother who was experiencing the most extreme stage of menopause.

Hormones flying everywhere. My poor father.

It all started that day when I’d left dance team practice. I was parched from several hours of extremely energetic dancing. My team was quite good, and we were heading to Nationals in a few weeks. I was captain, so it was my duty to make sure the girls were really whipped into shape. You can imagine how hard I’d been working that afternoon, how physically exhausted I was, and not to mention thirsty. I stopped by Sonic and ordered the biggest slushie offered…the Route 44, cherry flavored-my favorite. The car hop quickly brought it out to me, I took one big gulp, and was on my way home.

Mama was taking clothes from the washing machine and putting them in the dryer in our laundry room when I arrived. I whizzed past her and down the hall to my bedroom. It was a Friday and I had planned on going to a movie with my friends that night, so I needed to get ready quickly and be out the door. I sat the giant slushie on my nightstand just beside my bedroom door and crossed the hall to the shower.

After cleansing away the sweat of the afternoon, I threw on a t-shirt and sweats while I dried my hair and put on my make up. Then I searched through my closet to try and find something suitable to wear that night. My crush would be at the movies and I wanted to look perfect. Just then, I heard her walking down the hall. At that point, I’d almost completely forgotten about the slushie I’d left perched atop the nightstand just by my door.

As I was rummaging through a closet with more clothes than anyone should possess at one time, my mother came into the doorframe of my bedroom holding a basket of laundry.

She prodded me a bit about filing my FAFSA. The deadline was coming up, and I was not excited at all starting college. She knew if she didn’t continue to question me about it, I wouldn’t get it done, and I wouldn’t be able to go to school the next fall.

“Did you fill out those papers yet?” she questioned from the doorway across the room.

My eyes didn’t stray from wardrobe search before answering her curtly.

“*Sigh* NO, I didn’t get to it yet.”

“Sarah Ann, listen to me. You HAVE to fill those out or you won’t be able to go to college! We don’t have the money to pay for you out of pocket.”

I popped back. “I know, mom! I’ll finish it this weekend!”

“You better!” she jolted back.

“Oh my god mom, I WILL!”

“Do it! And don’t get smart with me!”

As she walked away I mumbled what I though was beneath my breath, “Ughh. Betch.”

As soon as the breath floated from my mouth, I regretted what I said, for I knew there’d be hell to pay. I heard the laundry basket drop as heavy footsteps moved quickly down the hall. I knew I was in for it.

She stopped in the doorway and looked me dead in the eyes. I was standing across the room, still in my walk in closet when she spotted the huge slushie I’d left on my nightstand. I knew what was coming.

Picking it up and screamed like a Banshee (*Scream*) as she chucked it right my way. Her days as a high school softball player showed, as the red beverage came whizzing toward me, hitting me directly in my chest.

There I stood, like Carrie when she was covered in pigs blood at prom. Myself, my dignity, and the entire contents of my closet were covered in sticky crimson goo.

An evil grin came over my mama’s face; for she knew she had won this battle. She placed her hand on her hip, raised one eyebrow, and said those famous words I’ll never forget before walking away

“Clean it up.”

In that moment, my entire relationship with my mother changed. Soon after the initial shock and the frostbite wore off, I began to see my mom in a different light. She was just like me…full of sass and a total bad ass. And how hilarious was it that I be standing there, miserably covered from head to toe in the thing that afternoon which supposed to bring me delight? We stood there frozen in time for a brief moment before I began to laugh. She looked at me confused at first, and then SHE began to laugh. We laughed together for what felt like an eternity.

I didn’t make the movie that night. I stayed home with my mom. We made popcorn and watched The Nanny. And anytime thereafter we came to a disagreement, I would think about the time she threw a slushee in my face. And then I’d start to laugh. And so would she.

So in the light of a very thirsty afternoon after a long day of dance practice and a longer night of cleaning up a closet covered in slush, we started over. And our relationship was better for good.


Starting – The Understory and Next Theme

Enjoy Rob McRay’s understory from 2017’s first theme “Starting.” 

Tonight, Nashville, we started.

We started contemplating word choices after a very poor word choice was directed from a 43-startingwild-hearted, hormonal adolescent at an equally emotional mother, who responded by hurling a giant “Route 44” cherry slushy all over us—and our relationship surprisingly thawed with the frozen drink.

We started our career at a school for children with disabilities with games of hot potato pickle and endless crafts…and scoliosis and seizures and horrific stories, and one child’s personal hell—which we escaped…but he didn’t.

In a 3rd grade “physical education” class we learned of…body changes, hygiene, and fictitious babies. And we started praying for periods—which eventually led to a loud scream, and a strangely smiling mother, and…uh…pillow butt panty problems.

We started our happily-ever-after with a blind date on Valentine’s Day, arranged by the committee. And we became engaged to be engaged, with no ring—till our romantic psychiatrist eventually asked nicely.

It all started when we cautiously climbed the broken sewer pipe, and tight-rope walked the brown beam, till we reached the vast river and took a bow to the applauding white caps—and now we want to speak for ourselves.

A new journey started when Mom fell, and led us to complaints of inattentive care, and assurances of disappearing beds…and a kind hug, and a stream of tears, and a promise of prayers…. And it really will be alright.

The trouble started at tennis practice with an insensitive response to Mom’s life crisis. It took years of distance till random love superseded rational thought, and we reconciled over a vodka martini and a country concert.

We started the relationship in a spartan home with many questions and a Kung Fu Panda kite. We sat cross-legged around the same delicious homemade dish—and thought perhaps the resolution of many of our problems might start this way…when we all eat as one.

We started our penchant for bad boys with “Rebel Without a Cause,” and spent years rescuing the troubled men…till restraining orders, and a long distance move, and years more of therapy led to the discovery that we were James Dean after all.

And so, Nashville, it started.

Thanks so much to all our storytellers–Darcie, Brittany, Kristen, Irene, Jane, Sarah, Barbara, Michael, and Samantha. Please join us for our next night of stories on February 27. Our theme is “Choices.” Pitch your story here!