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The God of Rugs

***Editor's Note: This is a story for adult readers***
My mother worshipped the god of rugs, which gave her peculiar powers, and gave me the conviction that I needed to find a god of my own.
"Well, Karen," Mom said, "so glad you finally decided to visit. "
"You make it so inviting. "I sat on the cabbage-rose printed couch, from which, to be fair, she had recently vacuumed the pet hair. Today's air freshener scent was a cloying version of patchouli. Mom's favorite Persian rug had a grip around both my ankles. I knew if I didn't tread carefully, I'd be stuck in Mom's living room for hours--maybe overnight, if she was feeling mean or her dementia kicked in.
Her collection of ceramic owls in various sizes, colors, and states of arousal stared at me from the knickknack shelves and the occasional tables.
"Are you saying you'd stay here longer than five minutes if I didn't take extreme measures to keep you here?" Mom asked.
"Probably not, but I'd come by more often if you didn't scare me so much. "
"I see. Well, I think I should just make the most of this visit, since I don't know when you'll be back. Would you like some tea?"
"Will you let me go to the bathroom?"
"Considering what happened last time, I think not. "
"No tea, then," I said.
"No tea, thank you," she corrected.
I considered not repeating after her, but the last time I did that, a throw rug had crept up my body and wrapped around my lower face. I had breathed in a lot of dirt and dog hair. It gave me hives. "No tea, thank you," I said in as snotty a tone as I dared.
"How about cookies?" Mom asked.
"The lemon ones?Sure," I said. Then, remembering my manners, "That would be lovely. "
She put two lemon cookies on a plate and set them on the lion-legged coffee table in front of me.
"Thank you. "I ate one and wrapped the other in a napkin for later. No telling how long she'd keep me here, and I wasn't sure her hospitality would extend to supper.
"So how's Jason?" Mom asked.
The rug was licking my ankle. I didn't want to speculate with what. It had never done that before. "Who?"
"Your fiancé," she said.
My fantasy boyfriend. Oh, dear. "We broke up. "I was tired of supplying her with details of fictional dates, but the instant I said it, I knew it was a mistake.
"You were too good for him," she said.
The rug slipped my shoes off my feet. It felt furry and a little rough as it caressed my toes. Warm heaviness pooled in my belly. "Sure," I said, my voice whispery.
I blinked and straightened. The rug was creeping up my calves. It felt warm and weirdly muscular for fabric. "Mom, I need to leave now," I said. I kind of wished she would leave the room.
"You just got here," she said. "I want to know where you're going to meet a good young man. You can't live your life alone. A person needs a helpmeet. Have you tried online dating?"
"Have you?"Dad left her seventeen years ago, and she'd been alone since, aside from the rug god thing. "I hear OkCupid is good. "I wiggled my toes. The rug tightened on them.
Mom sat back in her floral armchair. She stared past my head. "No," she said. "I haven't. I wonder. "She set down her teacup and saucer and headed out of the room. I heard faint keystroking from her study next door.
The rug made its move. It wrapped me up like I was a dead body about to be carried out to someone's car trunk for disposal. I never knew corpses could have so much fun. That it was happening on my mom's ugly couch, with her in the next room, made it much creepier and more intense.
By the time the rug unrolled me, it was dark. My watch wasn't on my wrist anymore, so I couldn't tell what time it was. Mom was still typing away in the next room. I pulled myself back together, but I couldn't find my peacock-blue underwear, until I took a good look at the rug, which had a new line of color around its edge. I grabbed my shoes and purse and tiptoed out of the living room, then made my escape.
I wondered if the god of clothes would grant me powers if I worshipped him or her. Clothes could be intimate, and clothes could be armor. I composed my first prayer.
The End
This story was first published on Wednesday, October 30th, 2013
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