I imagine that you’re looking after me and our family now. You paint the evening skies with the warmest of oranges and pinks, trying to send us a message, wanting to be recognized in the glory of the heavens. Everything will be fine, you seem to say; and how could they not when it’s your grace that wisps by us, caressing our arms- softly stinging our faces. I imagine you are there when night falls, smiling down, causing a twinkling in the stars, reaching our eyes, in hopes of us catching the glimmer.
Only a few months have passed and Sam still cannot believe that she’s gone. Her pictures still line the walls, bringing back memories of the happy times and the not-so-happy times, when they had to force a smile for the camera because life had summoned another obstacle. Pictures were always important to her, but not as much as their happiness. No matter what, he had to man up, straighten his tie and smile. Just for her. “Everything I do, Annie, I do for you,”he would tell her.
He looks at those pictures, sighing into his coffee mug as the yellow of the wallpaper mocks him in his grief with it’s summery glow. It was Annie who told him that all we are, and ever will be, are memories. Memories of love, and joy, and pain, and sorrow, and smiles, and eyes that show too much…but sometimes not enough… This was always so crazy for him to believe, yet, comforting because most his mind spent its time going over every thought of her; the way her nose crinkled up as she laughed; the softness of her voice waking him in the morning. She is his memories, little stitches in time that bind them together.
I think the children are growing annoyed with me. My story telling has seemed to fill up all of the quiet moments. I’m beginning to feel like our grandfathers.
Memories are also the demons taking shelter in the underside of his eyelids, placating his slumber. They are what keeps his tired mind on the loose. Moments that would be better off forgotten linger, chained up, smothering the man he once was- now distanced and lost beneath the eyes of the children, begging for release behind barbed fences. The war weighs heavily upon his shoulders, a stubborn burden. But then, there is Annie, whom somehow, despite everything, remains- a flicker of hope, a warmth in the front of his mind. She was there to listen as he stumbled so many nights, trying to find the words for what he had gone through as a Liberator. Never once could he get through it, and still, she understood.
Annie always had an eye for that- for reading people. She could read the emotions all over peoples’ faces, and then would go and do something so small and indirect to make everything better again. At times, such gestures were so subtle Sam often wondered if they were done by accident; and then he would see her grin in satisfaction of putting a smile on someone’s face. She was off shining a little light on those who needed it; nudging a little warmth into melancholy hearts.
You have inevitably become that warmth to me, easing my soul, my old and spoiled heart. You are still here, Annie, you are still with me. I won’t allow you to fade.
Won’t you stay?
He puts down his pen and sits back in the chair. The oak creaks in reply, cringing underneath his weight, holding strong beneath the man that put it together. He brings his rough, calloused hands to his face, burying the few tears that have managed to escape his calm facade. And he breathes- inhale, exhale, inhale… He breathes because that’s all he can do. The sunlight on the table fidgets between the spaces outlining the apples in the bowl resting in front of him. The red-delicious faded from the fruit- rotten. Exhale.