Monday, April 27, 2009

I woke up reaching for my pen and paper. I could tell the morning sky was gray; the cold, maritime scent creeping through the half-opened window, the lone warbling of a bird outside. Sunshine would have brought about a chorus of chirps but only a solitary twitter could be heard from my bed. I could see the little life in my head, a plump brown and black body bouncing on a spring switch, calling to his mates to join him on the dewy, green limb. I lay there, listening to the man beside me, the sleepiness rising up from his warm limbs tempting me to slumber. His arm found its way around my shoulder and wrapped me down under it, an unconscious gesture to not disturb either of our reveries. The words of this story bounced around in my head and I tried to hold them in tight while my eyes fell shut, hoping they’d be waiting for me on the other side. There was more to this, and fortunately some stragglers stuck about to be remembered here. Others flew away, as they are wont to do, like little birds.

Artwork by Kimball Davis

Thursday, April 23, 2009

This was inspired by two people that came in my office today...

       The woman is rolled in by her son. At this age, they don’t seem to look much different in age, save for the fact that she’s been reduced to being shuttled around in a wheelchair. His hair is gray, while hers is styled and coiffed into a blond helmet. He wears a flannel shirt like a working man, while she sports a leopard print sweater, a Coach purse, and gold bangles on her ears, wrists and fingers. She is all glam except for the shoes. They’re sensible, flat, tread-worthy. They Velcro rather than snap or slide on. There’s no elegant Ferragamo to shoe the swollen, water-logged foot of the wealthy invalid. Her fingernails are filed and polished, and most likely her toes bear the same, but a peep-toe pump is out of the question. Her clothes and skin emit enough perfume to remind anyone that she was there even when twenty minutes have passed. That same sweater, leopard printed, gilded, has been sprayed with her signature perfume for ten years now. She only wears it on cool Los Angeles days, days that used to be hard to come by when she was overrun with hot flashes and sweats. Now, she’s cold, all the time cold. The floor, the air, even the edges of her glasses as they find the nook on her nose and make more of the kidney shaped pink burrows on either side of her bridge.
       Her arthritic bones seem prone to splinter in weather like this. She turns in on herself to hold her heat, and people often wonder if she’s fallen asleep or just moved on… She hates the hump on her back, the fact that she sees more of the floor than her children’s faces. They’re all above her again. She tries to track their movements, but her neck aches as she turns to see them. They speak above her, words she should know, but nothing comes through. She wished for youth for so long, and now she’s gotten it. Pushed around like a babe by a man who reminds her of her own father. She was happy when he was born with eyes like her dad’s, deep, compassionate, wet brown stones in the pudgy, red face of her little boy. She wondered if his eyes still looked the same, but failing sight and limited mobility had robbed her of the chance to look her boy in the face. She saw his hands when he stood beside her, lying limp at his sides, the veins and tendons protruding under his thickened skin. His shoes looked scuffed and too young for a man his age, similar shoes to what she’d tied on his feet when he went to basketball camp years before. She saw the spots on his skin and worried over his health, the loss of muscle in his thighs and she wondered how long he’d have the strength to push her to and from the places he insisted she go.
       Her son responded to every ache and pain she mentioned to him, assuming the worst. For her, it was just the day to day events she had to talk about, and she didn’t give them much thought until he came through her door with that concerned look on his face. She’d made mental notes to not tell him her complaints when he came over, but the note probably got lost in the pile next to her big button phone, and she’d be there pouring out the despair of old age and loneliness, and he’d tend to her and say he’d stop by more. It was all she really needed. Being old and sick made her feel young and social again. She knew if she could just skip these appointments, she’d finally be able to rest enough to feel better. He’d do his duty as a son, going in late to work to get her ready and to the doctor. The getting up early and seeing the exasperation in her son’s eyes as she rifled through her purse looking for keys he had copies of, her glasses and some spare tissues, upset her. She’d sit in the waiting room with the other sick and dying, examining the tacky carpet they’d installed, listening to her son make small talk with the receptionists. He’d listen and nod, trying to conceal his concern as the doctor’s pronounced a death sentence through a fixed smile and glazed eyes. He assumed his mother was too far gone to comprehend the direness of her situation, the subtle message of doom behind the doctor’s words. She’d sigh and shift in her seat, he presumed from boredom, but she was annoyed that the medical professionals were filling her boy’s head with dread about her condition. She should have toughened him up more as a boy, but she fell in love with the whimsical little sprite that had emerged in their home, and kept him from really becoming a man. It was her own fault, and she prayed that his fragile nature might bring about his sepulcher first so he’d be saved from the devastation of going through her death. They both fought for the other’s life, believing they alone could bear the loss more than the other.