It did not happen. That’s what the mother says. Shirley did not die this morning. The mother’s niece did not call and say to her, “Yes, Shirley, your Bible study partner, Shirley who is so much younger than you are, Shirley whom you love, died this morning.” It happened in the Hospital Emergency Room so early in the morning, a gasp for air that was unanswered. The daughter returns to the house from Kiwanis meetings in Silver Spring. The mother tells the daughter, “Maybe if I sit still enough. Maybe if I believe hard enough. It did not happen. Shirley did not die.”
This is the March 8, 2014 installment of my daily exercise of 100-150 non-fiction words describing some portion of the last 24 hours. For now the collection is called, Two Women In The House, describing moments in the life of my mother and myself.
But the daughter is dishonest with herself. She doesn’t ever read the Style section later. She imagines that she is a lady of leisure, and that at some comforting returning each day time, say at lunch time, she lingers over the sandwich, reading about the latest photographer – Walker Evans I think it is – or what they are doing this time with the Big Chair in Anacostia. What really happens is the Style sections pile up, some on the floor, a couple on the table, while the daughter gazes into her computer screen. What is she doing? What is so important?
Continued from “Two Women in the House”
Now they are both downstairs, the mother and the daughter. The mother is reading the Washington Post and drinking a cup of tea. Who died? Everyday the mother reads the death list in the Metro section. The daughter sits with her computer in her lap, drinking a cup of coffee. She will look at the Style section later. The mother is a scientist. The daughter is an artist. Right now the daughter needs to put out some bird seed. Her mother loves the birds but can’t walk out into the back yard snow. The daughter cleans out the cat pan and sits down again in her father’s chair. Her father died thirteen years ago.