audio, blog, Pat Aitcheson writes, short story

Inktober 26 – Dark

Photo by Joshua Earle on Unsplash

He stood at the water’s edge poised between day and night, and pondered the meaning of his existence. He’d never been one to hesitate. He greeted everyone, young or old, with a quiet tap on the shoulder and let them gaze into his bottomless eyes. They always went with him. But the last one had made him pause.

When their eyes met, she pulled him into a world of laughter and pain, sunshine and storms. Quiet peace and gratitude radiated from her and bathed him in calm. Hers was a hard-won contentment, wrestled from the jaws of disappointment to be sheltered among tender moments. She had embraced life and followed her nature, never fighting her path.

She showed him how dark let her appreciate the light, how darkness could illuminate and refine, and how graceful endings crowned all that had gone before.

The sun slid from sight and Death took up his cloak and scythe once again. Understanding at last that his curse was also his gift, he moved on to his next encounter as stars revealed themselves in the indigo sky.


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Mother’s day, present

 

Pink rose by Miss_Orphelia via pixabay
Miss_Orphelia via pixabay

 

It’s not mothers’ day that gets to me, not now. The days of buying cards for my small children to give to grandmas are long behind me. There is only an old scar now at the place where I used to wonder where my card was coming from. Like running my tongue over the edge of a broken tooth that’s unexpectedly sharp, it’s best to avoid such things.

Eventually children are grown enough that they too are sucked into the consumerism that rewards a lifetime’s toil with over sweet chocolates and limp tulips from the supermarket. It’s a little late of course, but still welcome for what it is.

No, it’s the birthday card I don’t need to buy, the expectation I don’t have to meet that pricks at my chest today. The mother-daughter dynamic is a complicated, beautiful, terrible thing to negotiate. It feels impossible to make it completely right from either side, try as we might. But from this distance jagged edges are smoothed by time, and murky waters settle and clear.

She was not perfect. Yet with each passing year I see her somehow more clearly; younger, brighter, dancing in a striped sundress of lemon-yellow. It may exist only in my mind’s eye, but that is what my brain wants to remember.

No matter how stamped upon and twisted her roots might have been, no matter what secrets she held close like a gambler’s winning hand, she blooms in my memory on a still summer day. Birds sing and she pushes through the mud and dirt to flower, brilliant and defiant under a cloudless blue sky.