Hospital Corners

Ma always demanded that my brother and I set everything to rights each morning when we were kids. The desk had to be neat and tidy, the floor clear of obstructions. Our shirts had to be tucked in just so, and the knot had to be tied just the right way. The bed had to be made with proper hospital corners.
Zac could always toe the line easily, but Ma always found fault with the crease in my trousers, my essays, later even my driving. Try as I might, I could never handle all the damn details. Often I was late to school; I had to remake the bed more than once.
She always had something to blame me for. Each morning; each report card; each of my dates; each choice of colleges.
Ma died last week. I’m back in my flat after the funeral. I got a ticket speeding home in the rain. Thank God: she’ll never know.
In the corner, I see my bed isn’t made. I can still hear her tsk and see her head shake, dissatisfied.
I rise and go over to make hospital corners.
Soon, my tears mar the floor.

I’m sorry, Ma. I failed.

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