I watched her labored breathing, the skin yellow not pink.
She’d never been yellow, never been yellow a single day
till then. I knew that she had frequently closed her eyes so many
times before. Refusal with a punctuation mark. Denial
with a shake of the head and gritted teeth. These closed eyes of hers
were tired, not like the others. This time the mouth stayed open
without a fight.
This time her voice did not crack or strain, its volume did not increase
because words were lost to the submersion of the psyche, an afterthought
no more important than a vapor trail across a midday sky. Lucid only
when a cherished voice wiggled its way past the drum of her ear. Not mine –
not my voice – although I’d been talking for days. She didn’t couldn’t wouldn’t
hear me, except for when I prayed.
I knew, you see, that she was waiting.
Waiting for that girl in the starch white razor cleated dress and black –
black like the most starless sky – patent leather shoes. When the hands are pressed
together, palms merged into one, these humanoid hands form a skinny steeple. It was
what she was waiting for. The light turned on, the words were whispered
and when I faltered she exited the stage. Goddamn, that girl is a heathen, up until
my very last day! Sorry for the piss-poor send off. She should have known.
But I don’t know, how could I when she won’t haunt me? Mother, tell me,
was that the hopping off point, the midway station, or was it the ending of the tale?