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“Lying, thinking Last night How to find my soul a home” -Maya Angelou
The unfamiliar room echoed with memories of its past. It pushed against the ceiling, the walls, against Anya. Even though it was the middle of June, there was still a shiver in the room. Sunlight struck the window pane so hard that it scared her. She almost closed the shades when she remembered how ridiculous it was to be afraid. She tentatively whispered in the room, a plea for her mother. The words echoed back and scratched across her face. Hearing no reply from the room, she went into the kitchen.
On the counter was a quickly scribbled note. Anya picked it up and threw it away. Every morning there was one. She never read them. Reading them would make all of it real. She opened the fridge to find almost nothing. A few eggs. Leftover Chinese. A bruised apple. Mayonnaise. Anya wanted waffles. Real waffles, the batter from scratch, then poured on the hot griddle. That was her favorite part, seeing it being poured on the griddle, cooking around each little square. Pretending it was a waffle, she reached for the eggs.
As her omelet of only egg cooked, Anya cleared the dining room table. There were books and cardboard boxes and her mother’s dirty breakfast plate. Anya cleared it all away. She remembered a time when the table would always be spotless. Every Sunday, the china was brought out and placed at each dinner spot, one for every member of the family. The china was in a box by the end chair.
The actions came out of her automatically. She plopped her egg on a paper plate and put it on the dining room table. She poured herself water into a fancy wine glass. Her father had given her a small glass of wine when she was four, making sure it was diluted with water so she wouldn’t get woozy. It had been warm and sweet, sliding down her throat like velvet. She had wanted more, but her father had just chuckled and kissed her. She missed the warmth it brought her, because all she felt was ice. It was as if she had been entombed in ice.
Anya sat on a chair. Three other desolate chairs stared back at her. She took small bites, as if not to disturb the ghosts present at the table. She laughed, hoping it would make the room smaller, make the ghosts come alive. Make her come alive. But only silence answered her. She told jokes, crossing her legs onto the chair. The jokes disappeared like wisps of smoke into the air. After a while, she fell silent herself. The room had won.
Her mind was clear. All she could think about was sadness. How it was like hot butter. That was the only way to describe it. It poured over her life, sinking, filling every crevice and every pore. She began to choke. She could feel the room’s vastness. She could feel her life, closing around her like a noose. She fell to the ground and curled up into a little ball.
The grandfather clock ticked endlessly on. Sometimes to Anya, it seemed to have perfect rhythm. She concentrated on it, but moments later the rhythm was lost and Anya let her mind fall back exhaustedly. This continued on for a few minutes. It continued on for hours. She wasn’t sure. She clawed at her stomach, hoping the pain would go away. She cried, but the room looked coldly down upon her, so she stopped. With a broken voice she sang every song she knew, whether it was only a line, or the whole damn song. Eventually, she stopped. Her voice was dead.
The dining room had a rug on the floor. Anya never really noticed it. She traced the shapes on it, memorizing every detail. Her finger felt warm and itchy from brushing the rug. She closed her eyes and traced the shapes again, building the picture in her mind. The clock ticked on.
When Anya lost her first tooth she remembered being confused, since in its place was a hole. Her mouth was incomplete and she had cried because of that. She wanted the tooth back in her mouth. Her mother had tried to reassure her that a new tooth would grow soon. Her father gave her a five dollar bill to spend on anything she wanted in a candy store. Nothing could comfort her though. She just wanted her tooth back. Now, she wanted much more back.
Anya couldn’t keep her eyes open. Her mind wandered to the note, the icy egg on the table above her, the song from the radio, her parents, the china collecting dust, the rhythm of the clock. The silence was all she heard.