Friday, June 15, 2012
The world isn't always a fun place.
Beth and I played at crowned jacks. Her skin was puffed around the ring finger to bulge over her wedding band as her finger played with the kingpiece, a wadded piece aluminum sparkling with an aura of potential movement. She let the flickers glimmer as they showed all possible positions where her piece could move and when she finally let go, it moved into a throwaway position.
I moved my counter in an attack, the aluminum collapsing to the table, the sparkle of the power joining my counterpiece, leaving her queenpiece weakened. Long ago she'd shared my hunger. That competitive drive to win. Everything had changed.
I took no thrill in the ease with which I marched towards victory. I glanced at her, seeing the same pain as she glanced away, neither of us willing to speak of the memory of our daughter.
The daughter who'd left two days ago. The daughter who every time I saw her I still remembered her baby flesh, mottled, red, just as I'd first seen her when the midwife brought her to me. It was hard to let go.
My aluminum tokens chased Beth's queenpiece across the board. Inevitable. I won.
Beth reset the pieces in the opening patterns. The game would continue, neither of us speaking of anything of importance, letting us ponder our memories.
I'd stood on the porch when our daughter left. The silver-green of the pine needles behind her. She pointed at them, telling me that strength was earned not given.
She hadn't listened to any of my words. She had believed that one could learn to live and receive support from others. Instead, she took the meaning of the tree that we had loved as it grew ramrod straight as a cattail stem. Unlike, most twisted pines. We'd planted it in a shielded location where it grew straight not twisted into geriatric postures. But when it grew above the height of our house, the wind had caught it's heavy boughs and knocked the top two thirds of it to the ground.
Maybe she was right. Instead of trying to win, I grabbed any old piece and moved it. The game wouldn't end. Our daughter wasn't coming home.
No. I tilted the game board onto its side. One must eventually learn when one is lost. Beth twitched. Searching out pieces of aluminum, moving them over the table.
I left her, without a final glance and traipsed into the yard. My hands pressed against the rotted flank of the twisted pine. The tree reminded me of my daughter. The memories weren't enough. I wished she would come home.