Mothers (Machado)

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Summary of the Short Story
Microsummary: A woman was left alone to look after a newborn, who was the child of her ex-lover. She experienced a surreal journey through time, contemplating motherhood and potential futures with the child.

A woman with a troubled past named Bad handed over her newborn baby to her partner. The latter was initially taken aback but soon accepted the reality of her new role as a mother.

The narrator — narrator; woman struggling with motherhood; seems confused and overwhelmed by the sudden responsibility.
Bad — narrator's ex-lover; gave birth to the baby and left it with the narrator; portrayed as uncaring and detached.

The baby cried unceasingly which was inexplicably unsettling for her. She revealed that Bad and herself wished for a child and even created an imaginary future for their unison. However, their tumultuous relationship ended, leaving the woman alone with their child, Mara.

Mara — the infant; seems calm and curious; genderless.

The woman adored Mara, but at times found her constant crying unbearable. She was scared that her natural motherly instincts were being replaced by a gruesome desire to harm the baby, particularly focused on the soft spot on the baby's head.

I am not your mother, baby,I say. I can’t feed you.

She hated that the little girl didn't have a mother to nurse her. Regardless of such thoughts, she managed to carry on with caring for the baby.

The woman narrated a daydream where she saw Mara as a grown-up girl with a brother, Tristan. They lived in a house with their parents (the woman and Bad). However, it was just a dream. Alone and thrown in the middle of a reality she thought she wasn’t ready for, the woman grappled with longing for Bad's return and the compulsion to provide for her newborn. The emotions played within her so strongly that she spiraled down the memory lane.

I believe in a world where impossible things happen. Where love can outstrip brutality, can neutralize it, as though it never was, or transform it into something new and more beautiful.

Blurring the line between her dream of having a life with Bad and Mara and the reality of being alone with Mara, the woman was fighting her inner turmoil and fear of being an incapable mother.