Thursday, January 19, 2006

Vignette: On Seeing Things

Cold. It is all about the way the hand follows the invisible rainbow arc in space, the roll of the wrist as it beckons a lover forward, fingers rippling across the air. The constant thrum of anticipation in the ever-lengthening shadows. I stumble forward, following the flickering light before me, a fickle firefly darting here and there across the lonely corridor of the orphanage. The old wood floorboards creak beneath my feet. I wish I had worn socks, or even the old slippers that Juliet gave me before she left.

Light. Nothing more than a glow now, an muted softening of the darkness. It shapeshifts into a recognizable form, incandescent in the gloom. I do not know what it wants, and a part of me realizes that I am terrified. But still, I trip onwards, the bare soles of my feet numb in the early morning chill. Through random glimpses from the series of windows across the wall, I can see the moon, starlight on the leaves, an occassional cloud.

Silence. Everything is quiet in this place. I realize that I am back in the attic again. The cobwebs brush familiarly across my cheeks, as if greeting an old friend. I want to close my eyes. Light scatters around me, illuminating old toys, a rocking horse, some igsaw puzzle boxes stacked together. The tattered curtains allow a sliver of moonlight to run ragged across the floor. Somehow, I am rooted in place, my fingers clenching and unclenching at my side.

Oranges. The only thing I can remember about my mother is her scent one fine summer's day. In my mind's eye, she is at the backyard, pinning swathes of fabrice across clotheslines. She is dressed in blue. (Or perhaps that is just a detail of my imagination.) She sings. (Maybe I am merely pretending.) The citrus scent of her laundry soap and the fruits piled in baskets along the porch mingle in the heat, and soon I am bathed in a tangy breeze, my five-year-old hair fluttering in my eyes like butterfly wings.

Ashes. Like a sandcastle, my fingers smoothen the outline of the shape before me. It is like seeineg a familiar face with another name. The lit form in front of me feels smooth and heavy, like silk or honey. It shivers in its place, raising its arms up and outwards in a gesture of supplication. I feel the hairs at the back of my neck rise; goosebumps break in quick successive rows across my arms. There is strength in this place, and magic, and something deeper. A sorrow that has forgotten its own name.

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