For Grace Murphy Rodriguez The houses of my childhood, lived in and Visited, all bore walls exhibiting The landscapes of the Highwaymen. On a balmy Christmas night in Wellington, Florida I used my aunt’s bathroom off the master suite of Her house. Sprouting from an oil paint lawn, A scene of a Royal Poinciana tree offered Acrylic shade over my relative’s bed. Tiptoeing over, I went to take a closer look at the framed window to Another time. Yet its tangerine petals failed to prevent My meddling and I was distracted by another orange-colored object— A prescription bottle, its faded label illegible, waited empty on the nightstand. A lace doily, like a tesselated stage, hosted a menagerie of other strange Belongings— horn-rimmed glasses, a gilded compact and A single, full cup of water, I assumed forgotten. “She’s supposed to keep that light on,” a voice came behind me. It was my aunt’s sister-in-law, Sylvie, whose greeting earlier was Remember me for I hardly ever saw her. The only sound she made approaching Was the ice shifting in her marlin-decaled tumbler. A two-beat song Of the bedside lamp’s chain being pulled permeated the silence and We were bathed in light. My Aunt Kimmy came in, almost Frightened— “I checked on your mother’s room before the party started,” She said, pulling a pleather purse out of the dresser drawer, placing it Neatly on top. “I hope I haven’t forgotten Anything.” Sylvie reminded my aunt about the lamp and before I could use the bathroom or tamper with anything else she ushered us out. Sandwiched in between the two older women, I felt we were making a guilty Procession from that historic capsule, that vacuum, and back to The contemporary, a Christmas party. But passing the threshold, Sylvie stopped cold, in between the hallway and bedroom. She gripped the molding on the doorway for Dear life, a pained look in her eye. For whatever reason, She kicked off her sneakers and missing her long-dead mother, She cried.
Isabel Grey is receiving her MFA in Genre Fiction and Poetry at Western Colorado University. Her work has contributed to Black Poppy Review, WordCrafter Press, the upcoming Dear America series at Terrain.org, and elsewhere.
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