Written with my Thursday night writing group with the prompts: beautiful Melvina, giggles again, untethered soul, gardenias in hair, watching cartoons, unremarkable bone, human life will flicker out, when I think of returning to my mother, when I look in my mother’s eyes, quirky details, go ahead and pat me down, she sort of smiled, worse case scenario, what is tapping at the wall, keep going said Freda, never odd or even, glow
When I think of returning to my mother’s house, I am filled with dread. I don’t know if it’s still marked as a crime scene. I don’t know if the front porch is still wrapped in yellow tape. Last night police officers were crowding the front lawn. “Go ahead and pat me down,” my Aunt Freda told them, but I said, no, don’t touch me, I won’t have it. I just wanted to see my mother, that’s all I wanted. Beautiful Melvina they called her, back when she was young and I was younger. She’d giggle and hum with me, as she ran a bristly brush through my long hair. I’d be watching cartoons, and she’d sit behind me with brush and comb and bands and ribbons. Then she’d slip outside in her bare feet to pick gardenias to weave into my French braids, saving two for her own tresses, one to tuck behind each ear. Freda always frowned when she’d see the two flowers. “You have to be honest tonight,” she’d warn her little sister, my mother. “You can’t pretend to be ambivalent, never odd or even. It’s unlucky.” But Beautiful Melvina would only giggle again, then paint her lips and settle into a sort-of smile.
“Worst case scenario,” Melvina told Freda, “is that I’ll get twice as many dances, twice as many drinks, twice as many dollars to buy groceries next week.”
“Keep going and there’ll be nothing but trouble,” Freda concluded, but Melvina only shrugged.
I remember how I used to lean away from the cartoon show to catch a glimpse of my mother’s eyes. Was she worried? I didn’t think so, but now I wonder. That’s all I can do is wonder.
“Her soul is untethered now,” Freda says to me solemnly, and I want to smack her. So what? I want to shout. All of human life will flicker out one day, what does it matter? But I restrain myself. A police officer has come here to my door now, asking strange questions, seeking quirky details. Shut up, I mutter under my breath. Can’t you hear the tapping at the wall? She is signaling me, sending me a message. Don’t you hear it? We are each of us no thing more than a pile of unremarkable bones, but if you pay attention you might see it. You might glow.
Photo by Parker Sturdivant on Unsplash