|And Here, You End
Author: YasuRan PM
She would have liked to feel it shatter.Rated: Fiction T - English - Angst - Words: 1,017 - Reviews: 8 - Published: 01-23-12 - Status: Complete - id: 2991124
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His absence became one of those pools to wallow in. Perhaps it had been so since the funeral, but it chilled enough to cut now. As an amendment, she would usually take to the bench on the verandah with a cup of chamomile tea, sit upon it and balance the saucer on a thigh before deeming the once-over she gave the space beside her a lisp in the pattern. Unformed, half-hearted, a memory gone sour.
She would try to enjoy the peace, the heavy kind that came after a death, clotted with traces of incessant consolations and that trembling eulogy floating about each of his possessions. That hat there, the one he wore on walks to collect scraps of beech-wood left behind by the boys in the field, those peonies here, with which he would wreath with care through the rock-garden over there, when he was done with the morning how'd-you-do's with the neighbor, when all was said and done.
He's a good man, your father, her mother had always told her with a nip in her warning. He just hadn't been raised to show it that way. Earthbound, he'd always been. You were looking the wrong way, sweetheart.
She often sat there long enough to watch the sky bleach and darken itself through every possible shade of blue, until it seemed to exhaust itself from sheer monotony before dying away with a shout: in streaks of dynamite pink, orange, and purple which the sun shrugged off as easily one does with a child's shriek. She had always been the quiet one in the family.
She'd always wanted to grow. Just the not the way she'd had to. Up, up, instead of around.
She liked the hot weight of a tea-cup circled by her hands. If she held it the right way, over the clouds, it was a magic lamp with a genie inside. She'd only had time to think of her childhood in the week that had passed. Before, long before, perhaps ever before, a tea-set was a pair of lowered hands and murmured assent. Here's your tea, Daddy. She would return for it when it was stone-cold and full as the moon overhead, not even a wisp of steam skirting above the rim. She would have cried, had it been for the tea alone.
There was only expectation where his presence used to be. Each swallowed the other.
She remembered that after her mother passed, she had come into an inheritance of a patch of lilacs which curled close to the bench where he sat with his books along with a gleaming wall of pristine teapots stacked like weights off a body-toning contraption. Mother couldn't have said it clearer herself. She had found her child a place she was obliged to call home, at the feet and elbows of the man outside, who brooded over piles of rocks that only shone at night.
When she washed the cups at the end of the day, her hands grew soft and blotched. Over the years, they weren't fit for anything more.
On the last day of his life, she had placed the tea at the corner of his chair. His book lay open on his lap and she tried to make sense of the sea of words so immersed within him that she could hardly pick out the soul from the mind. Maybe he had a beautiful set of brains. Maybe he liked things best when they were just that bit more out of his reach. He lived a life of a seeker, rambling along down a path too blindingly illuminating for him to turn back.
She had watched him go. She watched with a reluctant, reverent fascination. She hadn't been sure he was entirely gone. The silence from then and now had stayed the same throughout. She thought about pressing her lips to his whiskered cheeks to draw something out of him, even a disapproving frown, the subtle shift from affection. She thought about giving into the throb in her chest, to throw the past away like she would a moth-eaten sheet.
In the end, she called the vicar over. She had set to fill in the silence with things that could be counted: phone-numbers, names of esteemed students and protégées in line to pay tribute to their mentor, hands of friends she met at the door, none of them hers, pale, tear-stained faces in church pews who couldn't bear a straightforward glance at the coffin, more hands clasping hers in theirs as these faces attached to names trickled away with nothing but kindness and praise for the great man they had known.
The house was fuller still. His awards and certificates spoke more for him than he ever had. She would have liked to cherish the silence, if it weren't for the guilt her heart curdled. When she exhaled, all she breathed upon was inked, from the stamps on approved treatises to the patterns on tea-cups. She held one in her hand, cold since the sun had set, while the sight of its fellows set upon her like a quiet, suffocating night. They peered from sideboards and footstools where people had placed them so they could commiserate better, verve in their flapping hands and sobs on their parched tongues.
When they finally left, they trailed ink of their own behind them. Invisible and uncalled for, they left his prints on the floor, memories she would rather brush away beneath the rug.
When she cleaned the house, she rubbed down hard enough to scour threats into marble and wood. Here I am, here I am, here I am.
In the end, there's not a surface that doesn't so much breathe her name as it wails it open, their voices pitched so high that no one really hears or follows them to the well-lit house in the middle of the row, their four walls bleeding effervescence and all that sanctimonious cheer.
She doesn't like to visit his grave, but her reflection in the silver lampshade makes her think he'll be able to hear her just as well.