Diana K Sharp
Hildie S Block
The painting means something. What, I’m not quite sure. Something, the colors, the lines. It was just on the edge of what I could . . .know? Just past –
She shook her head.
“You never listen to me. I swear mother, I mean it just doesn’t matter to you does it? Mom?”
“No– I mean what did you say– I want to know. . . ”
“Does it really matter? I come here. . . I think you are lonely . . . I feel so bad and then you just look out the window and don’t listen. I should go.”
“Listen, sweetie,” I grabbed for her hand. I turned it over in my hand. This hand which had been the chubby hand of a meowing smiling toddler, was now coarse, polish chipping and cracked. “Honey, when was the last time you got a manicure? Not very professional — the judge — ”
“Okay, so that’s it. I’m out of here.”
“No wait, Sera– have some tea. There are more cookies. . .”
But she was gone.
And I found myself back at the window, staring at the tracks the rain made against the pane as they raced each other down and counted down the minutes until the nurse came to bring me to dinner.
I didn’t realize my eyes were closed. I really thought I was still staring out the window. But now that I think about it, I mean really think — like I try to when they are doing tests to see if . . . Well I’m not sure what — to make sure my brain is still . . . Well, when I’m in that thing and there’s the banging — I think. I try to count as high as I can by threes, it gets boring. I try to do the digits of Fibonacci, but that gets too hard. I try to think.
Like now. I realize I’m lying on the bed, the lights are out, but I can see the hall light from under the door and see some glare outside the window. But I don’t exactly remember all the things that happened to get me here.
When my eyes were shut, even now when I shut my eyes, SEE? The painting? Oh, no, you can’t see can you?
The painting. There’s something about this painting. I wish I could tell you. It’s like a watercolor — it’s like my window when the raindrops chase each other down. At the same time it’s the stained glass from the church –
Oh god no. NO NO NO.
That’s what it is.
I was happier not realizing that.
NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO
I can’t remember that — of all things that — NO NO NO
What? Why are you grabbing me????
NO NO NO NO
Ow. Another needle.
Soft bracelets holding me to the bed.
They think I can’t hear, like I’m not there — I’m invisible. Maybe I am. Maybe I’m dead. No. I can see my chest rise and fall if I open my eyes a slit and look past my nose. I’m not dead.
“She had another –”
“I know, that’s why I came.”
“We don’t know if she’s getting worse. If there are seizures—Well, you may need to make other arrangements. The social worker –”
“I know. I think it’s my fault.”
“No, dear, of course not –”
“I agitated her. I shouldn’t come.”
“You’ve got something on your skirt — let me –”
“It’s just dog hair. The damn dog.”
“But your mother — I don’t think that’s it at all. Sometimes – “
(There’s a buzz)
“Do you need to get that?”
“Just a minute –”
“I can’t right now — I’m with mom — jury’s coming back — are you sure? — okay — I’m coming–”
“Sorry — I’m in court — their — my father’s case –”
“Do you need to –“
“Yes — well — yes, in a minute–”
“Let me just tell you this — you know we have a lot of patients in this wing, in the memory wing — we see a lot of things — and sometimes –“
“Sometimes — maybe not your mother – “
“I should probably go–”
“Sometimes memories — well, they come back — but the poor dears — they don’t understand them — or they are scared by them. One time there was a gentleman –”
(The buzz again)
“I really need to go –“
Scared. I’ll show them scared. The painting — it was not a painting. It was a window. There. A WINDOW. Oh god. It was a window, the window, in the church. OH THAT BEAUTIFUL CHURCH –
The funny thing about earthquakes, you know, well there are lots of funny things — but one of them — the animals seem to know. I mean my Maverick, he knew. He was hiding under the bed that Sunday. But did I pay him any mind? No, silly furball of a dog. “Here Maverick, here boy! C’mon out — walkies!” but he wouldn’t so I just shrugged and went on my way to church. Your father was driving. You know, that old blue Honda of his. Loved that thing. Always started. I used to tease him about it. “So boring,” I said, “No surprises.”
I loved that church. So old and beautiful. Even the pews were worn, but they had history. All the people who sat in them. All those souls.
OH GOD OH GOD OH GOD. It’s shaking. The Windows. The Windows. OH GOD they are flying — they are breaking apart — it’s like watching blood splatter. OH GOD OH GOD OH GOD.
Ow. Needles. Bracelets.
Your father was in that painting, you know. It was a watercolor. Painted with tears. That’s how they make them. And your father, he was in the painting. Right there in the middle. Crown of thorns. Beautiful streaks of color. They were like cells. Spidery, like nerve cells. Reliable. Like memory.
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