cookie dough :: greeting :: slippery slope :: tin can :: bloom
I’m thinking more about the relationship from last week’s write-in, mother-daughter tension.
She raises her hand in greeting and the years slip from me like an evening dress, the one I wore to prom. Blue, sixty pounds, the skirt ruffling in tissue-thin layers around my legs. The night I was getting ready, the limo would be arriving that a group of us had chipped in on. The bath water cooling, a nick where the razor had passed too close on my knee. In my head the newspaper article described my age, my prospects, and the strangeness of the door being locked so long. She would peck at the door, parrot chattering anxious. I remember the lock, a small metal bar you pushed across. But the narrow spiral of blood from the cut was sucked down the plug along with the dirty water, and I put the dress on with the accompanying tights, high heels, evening coat, bag.
It’s her birthday and I’ve brought her flowers, the tulips bloom violently in whites and purples. Happy Birthday, I smile, lips stretching apart over teeth. She hugs me, my arms meet across her back’s bulk, as if I’m ready to pick her up, me the adult, she is passing from me into a shrinking land. Small adjustments being made to her life, the absence of stairs, the teacups stacked in easy reach. I wonder if she remembers me going to prom, getting me to pose by a window, vase of flowers that I knocked off. Her indrawn breath as we heard the crack. She never did frame that photo. She was always telling me to be careful; it’s not her fault, these things happen. I sit in the armchair and she starts smoking, the blue fumes spool out. My bare arms in the clinging gown, first time I had worn something like that.
She is mumbling in the kitchen now, opening tins and washing them out, placing them carefully to one side. Do you remember prom? She doesn’t remember, no wait, she does, a cornflower coloured dress, and shoes to match. And you never did wear it again, did you? No, I never did. There’s a pile of cookies going soft in a tin with a robin on the front. I take one, and chew it. It’s a slippery slope back to the night of the prom, and I wear my age like a shield. Happy Birthday, I say again.