I was fond of that little place. There were costume-like clothes dangling above my head, willowy branches of a protective forest, and the walls formed an impenetrable edifice, bumpy and cold like Rapunzel’s tower. The clothes smelled of starch and my mother’s youth.
Another car goes by; this time, the puppies move together toward the shiny wheel and break off in sync like a flock of geese. The leader sends out signals, and they move in unison. Finally, they stop and stare at me. I would take one back home with me if I could. They were that cute.
Mother’s hands hide her face. Her mother, with her arm around her, repeats the same sentence over and over. The television blares, reporters reporting the rig was aflame, exploded, and sunk. They say they’re all gone. No survivors. They say it over and over.
The next day, I asked her what she meant. She stooped down, and I felt the warm air leave her lungs in a soft wind. “Sometimes when our insides don’t match our outsides, our bodies become prisons. When that happens, we become sad. My insides don’t match my outsides, love.”
What if they did hear me far away, in France, India, or China? What if they ran around yelling, “Who is making that noise? Where is it coming from? What is it?” Maybe they would think it was an animal and set traps, or the radio and look for a different station.
She crosses the front yard, pushes the gate open, reaches the graveled sidewalk, and sits down on the curb. The heat weighs heavily on the street; molten mirages shimmer on the pavement. Stilled air, tampered sounds.Christiane’s kitchen, with its human comforts and knowable scale, seems far now.
The third time he put on the shirt he didn’t look in the mirror at all, and that almost made it okay, except that he knew that if he looked in the mirror, he would see his frizzy hair and his pasty skin turned blotchy...
And so, the astronomer and the inquisitor pulled and tilled and spread and sowed until Emile’s backyard was one colossal labyrinth of garlic and radishes and roses and towering sunflowers that shaded the humble beds of lettuce and trumpeted the arrival of the spring winds.
I’m tempted to allow the whole bright clamor of them; after all, they survived this weather. But even the garden is on lockdown, and there are too many for one pod. There’s only so much water to go around. Wrong place, wrong time, summer’s children.
I remember how invigorated I felt during my first time reaching into that bag. Closing my eyes, I desperately swirled my hand around to try and feel its contents, pulling out a kaleidoscope. Peering into the hole, I shook it around some and looked back in. Colorful shards rearranged themselves into a new collage—magenta and royal blue. Lime green and canary yellow.
I watched him climb over the splintered railing of the bridge and stand on the short planks on the other side. When he saw me on the bank, he let go and waved at me. I wanted to tell him not to jump, but when I stood up and tried to yell, I could not remember the words.
You wade through the swarm of people, automobiles, and animals and find a clean spot to display your wares. Nobody looks at what you have to offer. There are too many things to buy here, you see. You slip under the radar, and somewhere you are thankful for it.
It is not an easy thing to come upon a monument to such loss in the middle of a cloudless November afternoon when your thoughts are on the joys of life. To witness the horrible beauty of green moss thickening over the memories housed here. The terror of names and dates steadily vanishing from human knowledge.
His way of extracting laughter from us floated immediately to mind. His bursting into our after-worship classroom, imitating our rector's Harvard yard accent: "Jes-a-us say-ed to he-as disc-ah-ples...," never failed to leave all present in stitches. Learning he'd convinced his fellow high school students that his name was Barrack, like the current president, set something in us free.