Cara removed her mother's cherry fruit-patterned blinds from the kitchen window. Folding them on top of the stove, she had a clear view of the backyard. The lilac bushes she used to lie under to shade herself from the South Carolina sun were still full and luscious like she remembered. She looked for the patches of grass that had never fully grown back after digging so many graves for so many pets. Sitting at the kitchen table, she looked at the same piece of cardboard her father had to put under one of the legs after he and her mother came back from clubbing. Cara and her brother Michael watched as their father tried to dip their mother but lost his grip. When she stumbled backwards onto the table-top, her father would later joke, “It just couldn't hold my girl. Not the way I can.”
Cara wasn't expecting the call. Even now, two days later, she felt foggy. Not really asleep but not really awake as she sorted through her mother's stuff. She wanted to talk to her but every time she lifted her head up to the ceiling or the sky, she felt embarrassed. She stood from the table and walked down the narrow hallway on the uneven shag carpet into her mother's old room. On the floor by the dresser was a stack of photo albums. Wiping the thick layer of dust, she opened to the first page.
Mexico City, 1974. Her mother was wearing a two-piece bikini, with her hair long and wavy the way Cara always pictured her. She would always be thirty-two, tan, and healthy. Putting her hand over the picture, her fingertips peeling the edges loose off of the page, as Cara remembered how she’d never want to bring her boyfriends home. How petty those arguments seemed to be now. Petting the pages of the photo album, she thought about when Michael called her from the hospital. How he warned her.
“I just want you to be ready,” her brother said.
She didn't know how to be ready anymore. After the results of her biopsy she lost the sense of healing. There was no need to heal from her mother's death. In a sick way she found it relieving. She could leave the most arbitrary parts of grief for others.
She walked back through the kitchen and into the backyard. She settled under the same lilac bush and looked up into the sky that was as clear and pure as her mother's eyes. She lifted her hands under her shirt and bra, and pressed her index and middle finger against her breast. Poking and massaging the same lump of her mother and grandmother.
Skyller Tritch is a recent creative writing graduate of Columbia College Chicago. Currently she is an improv student at Second City and an all-around comedy nerd. When she isn’t writing, she is performing stand-up and waitressing all around Chicago. She also thinks Hillary has good intentions.
This is Skyller's first publication.