Evan Lavender-Smith’s previous work for The Butter can be found here.
Tell your mother the roast is overdone.
—Tell your father he can start cooking for himself, if he likes.
Tell your father he didn’t fix the ice maker right.
—Tell your mother I’m not a plumber.
Tell your mother the laundry’s dry.
—Tell your father I’m not his maid.
Tell your father to pick up his underwear off the floor.
—Tell your mother she forgot to bring in the hamper.
Tell your father I won’t speak to him again until he starts showing me some respect around here.
—Tell your mother I’m perfectly fine with using you as our intermediary. Forever.
Tell your mother I can’t stand this anymore.
—Tell your father the feeling is mutual.
Tell your father I’m ready to start speaking to him again.
—Tell your mother I’m not even close.
Tell your mother I want out of this marriage. Today.
—Tell your father he’d better lawyer up.
Tell your father he can’t have his cake and eat it, too.
—Tell your mother to watch me.
Tell your mother the bed’s unmade.
—Tell your father the lawn looks like the apocalypse hit.
Tell your mother the dog went on the rug.
—Tell your father it’s his dog.
Tell your mother I’m ready for us to start speaking again.
—Tell your father in his dreams.
Tell your father he’s sleeping on the couch tonight.
—Tell your mother gladly.
Tell your father the doorknob is sticking.
—Tell your mother use the other door.
Tell your father I do still love him very much, but I’m not going to speak to him again until he starts treating me the way I deserve to be treated.
—Tell your mother I have been—that’s why I’m not speaking to her.
Tell your mother I’ll be home at 7.
—Tell your father don’t bother.
Tell your mother I love her.
—Tell your father he’s not getting off that easy.
Tell your mother this lasagna tastes like prison food.
—Tell your father birds of a feather.
Tell your father he’d better watch his tone.
—Tell your mother turn up the TV.
Tell your father come to bed.
—Ask your mother what’s on offer.
Tell your father he treats me like a whore.
—Tell your mother I’m sorry. No, wait. Don’t say that—it’ll set a bad precedent.
Tell your mother I want to make up.
—Hand this to your father. These are my terms, tell him.
Tell your mother I’m trying to be a better man.
—Tell your father he needs to try harder.
Tell your mother we should make amends for your sake, for the sake of our child. Tell her I’m worried we’re damaging you.
—Tell your father I’m familiar with his tricks.
Ask your mother wouldn’t it be easier to finally cut out the middle man.
—Ask your father wouldn’t it be easier if he finally grew up.
Tell your mother this, that and the other thing.
—Tell your father tell me something I don’t already know.
Ask your father if he remembers back when we first got married. Wouldn’t it be nice for things to be like that again, ask him.
—Tell your mother I do. And yes, it would.
Ask your father what he thinks the problem is really all about.
—I don’t know. I ask myself the same thing all the time, tell her.
Tell your mother I love her, that my love for her has not diminished over the years—tell her that it’s only grown—even though sometimes I want to wring her neck.
—Tell your father I often want to wring his neck, too. But then tell him that I also love him very much. Go in there and tell your father he’s the love of my life even though I want to wring his neck all the time.
Tell your mother let’s find a way to make it work. Tell her let’s do it not just for your sake, the sake of our child, but for the sake of ourselves, the sake of our love. Ask her if she has any ideas about this.
—Go back in there and tell your father I’ll think on it.
Also, tell her your mother she deserves better than this.
And be sure to tell her that you, our child, certainly doesn’t deserve this.
Go in there and tell your mother that sometimes I feel even I deserve better, although, truthfully, I probably don’t.
I remember how it used to feel, tell her, and tell her I want that feeling back. Tell her sometimes I catch myself thinking it was having a child that gave way to all our problems. But there was a time, I remember, when things were fine, when things were wonderful, even with you here. In fact, there was a time when you were here when things were better than ever. Obviously, your mother and I are positioning you between us, and that can’t be good for you. Maybe you need to go spend a long weekend at a friend’s house. Do you think you could arrange that? Your mother and I would have some time alone together, and we’d be forced to start working things out on our own. Plus I’m sure you’d have tons of fun over there.
Go in there and tell your mother I have an idea.
—Go back in there and tell your father I’m all ears.
Evan Lavender-Smith is the author of From Old Notebooks and Avatar. His writing has recently appeared in BOMB, The White Review, Eleven Eleven, and The Collagist. He teaches creative writing at New Mexico State University and serves as an editor at Noemi Press.