memory
by josephine (tobyjo44 )
note: this is fiction. please don't ask for an explanation or a sequel. thank you.
the wind is blowing across my skin, and i shiver, wondering what it carries for me, and what it is taking away. a sole leaf drifts down from above me, and i catch it in my hand, sad that winter is coming again, and filled with dread over the memories that winder always brings. winter is cold, harsh, dark. winter is death. my mother loved winter because of the beautiful snow covered ground and the icicles statues of water dripping over the edge of the drainpipe. winter repels me. when i see a snowfall all i can think of is the plants and flowers that have the life sucked out of them from the first frost. but those plants always return in the spring. my mother didn't.
my small form is tucked into the pouch of a tree, up among the leaves and bark i feel the most safe. i am untouchable. nothing can break me. the wind blows harder now, pushing at me, but i do not give way. i trust this tree. in winter, this is the only tree that never loses all of it's leaves. this is my tree of hope.
i hear a distant voice calling my name. katie, they call, it's time for your dinner. i do not reply. i am not willing to leave the haven of my tree, but slowly separate myself and climb down from the heights to the ground. my bare feet tickle at the feel of the grass, and unable to stand it much longer, i take off at a run towards my family's house.
once inside i feel cut off from the sky, and i sit at the small table in the kitchen right by the window so i can at least look outside and imagine so hard it seems real. katie, my father approaches me, i set your place at the table in the dining room tonight. please eat with the rest of us. he says this every night. and i always shake my head. and he always brings my plate and silverware and elmo cup and dishes out my food which i always eat without tasting because after i eat i can return to my hide-a-way.
but tonight is different. katie. he says sternly now. you will eat with your family. come now, take me hand, or we will have to do this the hard way.
i look at him, unable to move or speak.
come on katie. please, for your mother.
but daddy, i want to scream, mommy always let me eat here. but that's not true. when she was with us, i never needed to be outdoors. i always was a good little girl who did whatever mommy asked, just to receive a smile or a hug.
katie, your sister made a nice meal, and we all want to eat with you. now, just stand up.
no one wants to eat with me. it's all a lie. the only one who wants my company is my tree and the sky. and they are the only company i want in return.
i'm counting to three. one...
a tear slides down my cheek unbidden, as i am torn between obeying my father, or feeling at peace.
two...
i can't bear to look into his pleading eyes any longer, so i look to my lap where my hands are folded neatly.
three...
i can't, i whisper. my voice is hoarse, and for a moment i wonder why. then i realize that i haven't spoken aloud since last winter. the air rushes into my lungs cold as my father blinks away the tears i see resting in his eyes.
you can, katie, you can, if you only try.
i don't know why dinner is so important to him, perhaps he is really hungry. i can, if i only try...
with one last glimpse of the trees, i push myself from the table and grip my fathers hand with my own and the sound of my feet padding on the wooden floor seems to fill the silence.
i sit down in what was always my chair before, across from where mommy sat, and next to debby and scott. debby kisses my forehead, and smoothes back my hair, whispering something about my hair is a mess from all the wind.
scott says a cold front is coming in tonight.
father passes the mashed potatoes my way, and i grasp the spoon, ladling some onto my plate. as my hands pass the bowl i like the feeling of the warmth that seeps through the porcelain.
debby and scott take my hands and join with my father, and his deep voice fills the silent room. father, bless this food to nourish our bodies, and thank you for letting me be with scott, debby, and katie to enjoy it. thank you for the memory of susan. amen.
i take a bite of the potatoes, gravy dripping down my chin. the warmth seeps through me.
and it begins to snow.