17: April 2017 #07 - Deep Spring
Authored by Kelsey Timpone
The green seascape that lined your childhood. Seemingly infinite in the way it rolls seamlessly from one season to the next. Days before the solstice. The sun hangs in the sky. The moon fights for its rightful spot. Your skin has changed. Freckled. Darker. Clearer. Stand at the edge. Where the waves turn to foam. The sand is packed. Start with your heel. Press the full weight of your body onto the right heel. Go until you feel something solid. Look down. Watch as the sand makes way for you. Repeat it on the left side. Notice the mountain of damp sand and miscellaneous shells forming between your two feet. Stay balanced. Push yourself up to the balls of your feet. Imagine tiny roots sprouting from your toes. Planting themselves in the shifting sand. The water is coming. This won’t last. Like most things.
You drive for hours. Bowie on the radio. Drive up the north shore. Stop for ice cream. Bring a cone to your friend. Walk to the shack. Flirt with the owner. Disappear when his wife comes out. Sit on the beach. Cold sand. Warm water.
Go to your grandparents’. Watch your grandfather get wheeled out on a gurney. Eat ice cream cake with the social worker. Stare at each other in silence. Mimic his body language. Wait for him to notice. He doesn’t. Hold your grandma’s hand. Watch a movie. Black and white. Sit in your grandfather’s chair. It’s wrong. Get up half way through. Stay in the bathroom for too long. Look at yourself in the mirror. Take off your glasses. They’re dirty. You’re dirty. Get in the shower. You shouldn’t. Get out of the shower. Stand naked and smell every candle. Lavender. Ignore the knock. It’s your grandma. It’s time.
Grab the book. Replay. Start the car. The sun should be down by now. It hasn’t succumbed to the moon yet. Look to your right. Your grandma is crying. Feel the tears rush to your eyes. Curl your lips over your teeth. Bite down. You can’t succumb yet. Drive to the hospice. Try not to make eye contact. With anyone. Check in with the nurse. Look for your ID. It isn’t there. Check your car. It’s not there. Call your mom. She’s already inside. Start to dial your dad. Remember he’s in Amsterdam. Go back in. They won’t let you in without an ID. Bullshit. Sit in the lobby. Pace in the lobby. Ignore the overwhelming odor of death. Chew mint gum. Piece after piece. Look down when the living walk through. A nurse comes to sit with you. She tells you Jesus came to breakfast. But you’re Jewish. Your grandfather wanted to be a rabbi. Or maybe Italian. What happened at that fat camp? Nonno saw Jesus. Know the end is near.
The nurse leaves you. Take pride in your loneliness. Do not bite your lip this time. Wait for the tears to come. Feel worse when they don’t. Wring your hands. Watch as they turn red. Keep rubbing. Harder. Faster. The tears come. Not because of your grandfather. Because your hands are raw and numb. You are raw and numb. Swallow your sobs. Swallow your gum. Sit down.
Your mom comes out. Stand up. Recognize the look. Let your head fall. Let everything fall. It’s dark out now. The moon won. The tears won. Hug your mom. Lean in. Lose the boundary of who is holding who up. Cry. Really cry. Don’t hold back. Try to listen when she explains what happened. Black out. Ask what happened again. Peaceful she says. At least someone was.
Put on his necklace. Drive to the beach. Up the north shore. Then south. Eat ice cream alone. Stay out all night. When the sun rises smile. The first smile. The end of Spring.