Flash in the Pan
A Quarterly Posting at Tiny Lights
by Judith Fisher
I imagine Mom entering the dark hall closet, inhaling the scents of her fine wool coats, alligator handbags and kid gloves. This place always grounds her, connects her to the woman who existed before, who, when feeling well, could dress up for church on Sundays. Be seen, beautiful in her finery. Now she looks for a scarf, needing something to fancy up her simple outfit. "As the World Turns" begins soon, at one o'clock. She is between lunch and the couch, slipping into the closet like a warm, wet womb.
Her hands caress the silks and cashmeres, loose summer shawls in pastel sherbet colors that match the sundresses she no longer wears. One particular scarf invites her to wad it up, bury her face in it like she did her Papa's giant handkerchiefs, the remembered smell of his pockets filling her. The fabric is damp, absorbing her tears the way loose gauze holds blood: warm, familiar. One's own essence.
Leaning on her cane as she straightens up, she pulls the long scarf from its hanger, winding its length seductively around her neck. As it brushes past her lips, she tastes the faint salt of tears. The softness, meant for comfort, takes her into another time, of blood-soaked bandages wrapped tightly around her wrists, while dreams slipped away. She would give anything to have her life back, before she fell, before the broken hip, the stroke. Just to be normal again: to play bridge, shop for pretty dresses, even read a book. And to talk! Writing everything down on a pad with her shaky right hand must drive her crazy. No one but Dad understands her speech. Hardly anyone visits. Friends find it too painful to see her this way. One thing for certain: her life will never be the same again.
Judith Fisher is a writer and massage therapist living in Mendocino County, CA.
"Bookbinder's Daughter, a Life Lost and Found," her memoir slated for publication in 2014, tells of a girl growing up with her mother's mental illness, and how she survives suicide attempts, shock treatments, rape, and a near-death experience. Excerpts of the book have appeared in "The Sun" magazine and the "Noyo River Review."
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