- Vol. 02
- Chapter 12
AriseWhen I was young my mother would take up her crutches and totter up the four flights of stairs to the attic. There was an old chair up there left behind by a previous tenant. My father had draped two wool blankets over the tattered upholstery. She sat there and looked out of the window, at the crowns of the trees in the forest swaying like underwater plants in a current. I would bring her tea and set it on the arm of the chair. A weak smile, a finger lifted in gratitude. I brushed the dust from her elbow and smiled back.
We could hear her coming down the stairs, the wooden crutches clattering one-two, the squeak-squeak of her feet. Father met her at the door and helped her into the flat. I went upstairs to fetch the teacup and saucer. I looked out the window at the leafy ocean: swaying, swaying. The indentation of my mother’s body lay impressed upon the chair. I sat down and imagined what she thought in the long afternoons she spent up here. And this is what I saw:
Long slender legs, tipped with toes made of feathers, feet fluttering across the treetops;
A gnarled hand reaching out to brush back her hair, obscuring the sun for a moment before the sandy fingertips alight on her forehead;
A baby, swaddled tight, held in the crook of her arm, its lips parted as it sleeps;
My mother lowering herself into a pool of water as my father strips off his clothing, their young bodies moving in laughter;
The heavy heaving of an iron lung next to a hospital bed;
My father carrying her to the bathtub, reaching in to make sure the water is not too hot;
Tentative steps on a rug, hands white-clenched on crutch handles;
One step after the other, after the other, after the other;
Weightless in the water, limbs moving lithely, droplets glistening in my father’s beard;
She descends from the sky into the canopy, eyes closed, her mouth opening in a cry as her legs disappear into the boughs.