By Erin Hall
I come to you when I visit home. I press my index and middle fingers into my lips, and gently touch them against the smooth marble edge. I tell you about the traffic—so many idiots in the left lane, it would have driven you mad—and trace my fingers, sticky from my lip gloss, along the etching.
I wonder if mom notices, but I’m careful. I angle the armoire door just as she always leaves it—slightly, but thoughtfully, open—as if that door was the barrier instead of time.
Stepping onto the patio, I see you outside, sweeping the pool vacuum in melodic, almost therapeutic, strokes up and down the pool’s curved walls, stopping only to slide the loose cuffs of your sweatshirt up your sun-drenched arms.
You’re folded headfirst into the boat’s engine hatch, your legs twitching against the taut, ashen leather of the bench seat, the sharp clang of your tools against the metal hull echoing up the hill.
You’re seated quietly on the deck, legs outstretched on the chair, tasting deep breaths of humid air and sips of iced tea as you survey the backyard with worry drifting far from your shoulders.
I stand there watching, the sounds of summer rising as a choir around you—the soft lap of water against the seawall after a boat cuts the canal, the low groan of its motor lingering, the hum of a mower as a neighbor grooms their yard, and birds whistling into the breeze.
I wiggle my toes against the brick, delighting in the coarseness and warmth from the afternoon sun, and I open my eyes.
The skimmer mounts the pool steps and gurgles, spitting water onto the pavement. The boat hoist is empty—a mass of seaweed, driftwood and trash nesting between the bunks like a heavy, tangled memory. The chair is gone. The iced tea is in the fridge. And you are upstairs, in the armoire, in the marble box.
About the Writer:
Erin Hall is a writer and communications professional in Royal Oak, Michigan. She’s been hard at the public relations grind for nearly 15 years, but has always considered herself a writer first—ever since she scribbled short stories under the lamp on her childhood nightstand at all hours. She previously wrote for her hometown newspaper, Michigan State University’s (now defunct) Big Green Magazine and Chicago Now’s blog network; she has been recently been published in the Detroit Metro Times. You can find some of her personal musings at www.arkedgirl.com.