Saturday, September 17, 2016

the death of the last Apostle

Margaret sits in her armchair. Her armchair is a cozy, white-and-yellow gingham chair from her mother's sitting room. Maggie remembers sitting in it many afternoons as the sunshine streamed in through the window, slats of sunlight shining through the crisp white shutters on the windows, creating shimmering, quivering bars of light and shadow on the floor. Dust danced in the sunlit air. Splayed out across the braided rug, she would read Nancy Drew or Agatha Christie and feel the sunlight bake the shiny maple floor of the sitting room. Then, the vinyl played the Beatles or Johnny Cash.

Now, it plays Chopin. Even on sunlight days, the blue raindrops of melancholy piano fills the room. And Margaret reads P.D James when she reads. Most days she just sits and watches the dust travel aimlessly in the sunlight. The sunlight catches all the soft grays and silvers on Margaret's soft head and lights up her fluffy white hair like a constant golden hour.

Margaret is very old. Most days she can't quite remember how old she is. She can remember how old her daughter is, however. Her daughter is sixty. But doesn't look a day over thirty, Margaret thinks.

Margaret has a world of memories in her head. Very small ones, like baking an apple pie in October, with fresh apples picked from the apple trees out back. The apples are small and very tart. They have a few holes from birds' beaks or worms, leaving them looking somewhat misshapen. But they are rosy and warm with autumn sap.

She remembers when the city paved their street one summer. The smell of tar and fresh asphalt baking mixes in her memory with the sounds of children running around the yard playing tag, and climbing trees out in the back, and her daughter running inside with blood dripping from her knee.

She remembers lying out in the dark November night, watching the Perseids under flannel sleeping bags, and drinking hot chocolate with grainy synthetic marshmallows. She remembers the odd ombre mauve of the night sky, and the small streaks of light against the inky vault of sky.

She remembers the feel of cold water from the waterfalls trickling over her toes. It feels like mountain air and mist rolling over the rocks, tumbling through the moss and through the dogwood trees.

All these memories fly around in sunlight like specks of dust. And will vanish in the corduroy shadows when the blinds close.

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