Fictional true stories #1

Light breaks the window. Almost; it falters. The green behind it large and voluminous, the dust deliberating its fate between air and earth, gravity paused for a moment and dark suspended in light. Voices fleet and the kettle boils, the button snaps up and tea bags are set in the two brown cups. Chamomile, peppermint, pieces of ginger cut up in the water. Mother’s hands hold little lines. She steadies herself, gives you a cup. The table is bare except for the book you brought for her and your own handbag. She turns it over and feels the covers, opens to a page and reads some, a little smile coming to her as though she already knows what it is about. You try to hold in your disdain for the showiness of the gesture. The house is large and you both make your way through it and spend time in the garden where the plants are and flower buds have begun to open. Mother’s frame is smaller now, or yours is bigger, maybe you’ve put on weight or something. Mother walks carefully and you feel heavy and clumsy around her like she could break one of the pink camellias that bend onto the path. Father is warm and dirty and small as well and quickly resumes the squatted position in a garden bed beneath a vine after he leaves dirt on your back from his hands.

You remember a time when you were so small beneath him and you watched your shadows competing for space in this yard. You want to kneel and gather the dirt around the seedlings and bump his hands, but you must be at work in an hour and this was just supposed to be a short visit. 

On the train on the way back from mother’s house the rain slowly settles in and the glass seems to bend and cave to its growing pressure. Tunnels pass in and out and air is bent out of shape by speed. The train passes a green field with a dam in it filled with purple weeds brimming with lilies. In the field, a girl in a brown dress follows her father across the grass. Time wanders beside them. You gulp, close your eyes, plant flowers with your father.