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In the town of Chaston, a young girl is washing her mother’s apron in the river, which runs throughout the town. The apron, which was a gift to her mother when the girl was only four, is worn and covered in stains, and is so torn apart that it would be impossible to wear. The girl came to the river to wash the apron on the old washboard that lays half-submerged in the muddy riverbank before the sun’s rays even brushed the mountaintops that surrounded the village, when the tide was so low that the more she rubbed the old apron on the washboard, the more it ripped apart and disappeared into the mud. By now it is almost noon, and the girl is sweating as she desperately tries to clean the tattered apron. On normal days, the river would be swarmed with women of every age by now, rushing to get the day’s cleaning done before their husbands came home. When the girl comes, however, the riverbank remains barren and silent, the only sound is the sound of cloth tearing and heavy breathing as the sun begins to beat down on the girl’s back. Everyone knew when the girl would come, even newcomers to the town, because the girl only came on one day every year. The girl herself knew why people didn’t come to talk to her, why they pulled their children close when she was mentioned briefly in a conversation, and why she had to live deep in the woods, where only the squirrels and little black ants dared venture. She knew it was because when she walking, she always veered to the right, and her hands were bent out of shape, like an old hanger that has been hanging in a closet holding a heavy leather coat for many years. She knew, because of the small broken mirror she kept on a small bed of moss that her face was deformed and ugly, her eyes were squinty and her ears were mashed into the sides of her head. Her mother had told her once, long ago, when she was still alive. When the girl’s mother died, an old man named John took care of her, but then one day he left and didn’t come back. The girl, now ten, knew better than to look for him. Because of all this, the girl shut herself into the forest and never dared to come out, except for on one day.

Every year, when the flowers were blooming in the fields and the river flowed freely once again, the girl took her mother’s apron and walked with it to the riverside, where she worked tirelessly for many hours on the small washing board until the sun set. Every year, no one else came. On this particular day, the girl was sixteen, and the apron was no more than a few pieces of fabric held together by the mud that had accumulated over the many years. Around sunset, the girl suddenly stopped her work, look at the apron, and sighed. Then she picked it up, and walked toward the woods. Today, however, the girl did not walk straight home. When she had barely entered the woods, she turned, and walked until she reached an majestic willow tree, bent and knotted with its many years. The girl pushed aside the branches and sat on the ground, next to old, white stone that said: Beloved mother, I wish it was not soon soon-From your daughter.
The old man had written it for her, but the girl had no idea what it meant. She just sighed once again, rubbing the worn words clumsily with her thumb. Then she took the apron, and after she had carefully laid it where her mother was buried, she whispered “happy mother’s day, mom”.





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