"Oh the glory when you ran outside with your shirt tucked in and your shoes untied" Casimir Pulaski

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The night was black, and her sickly pallor glowed eerily in the darkness. Her eyes were unfocused as she navigated the rows of gravestones with a familiarity that suggested habit. Unthinkingly, she gently brushed her fingertips across the stones as she passed. The pack she carried was a child-sized, pink book bag, undeniably small and odd on the grown woman’s back. Silently, her footsteps moved of their own accord before they abruptly halted in front of the towering outline of a massive weeping willow. Her pause was short, for she wasted only a moment to admire the beauty of the great tree; it was the first time her eyes had shifted focus since leaving her prison, an insomniac’s cell: the bedroom. Her blank stare soon returned, and she quietly disappeared through the soft curtains of willow branches. Once concealed, she mechanically began her nightly ritual: she unpacked her small bag (carefully removing sheets of paper and acrylic paint), yanked her hair from its elastic, and found a comfortable divot in the ground. With her hair falling loosely about her face like the limp branches of the tree that obscured her, she painted in the shadows. Though her eyes were fastened on the paper, they did not follow her slender hand across the page. The paintbrush seemingly guided her hand; she did not need her eyes to see. No, her eyes were fixed on visions of memories from years before. “Oh the glory…” slipped from her lips, a warbling whisper. Only the slightest hint of what her mind was obsessively replaying translated to an image on the page: a front door. The design of the door varied from piece to piece: elaborate doors, glass doors, double doors, doors in need of a coat of paint, and more. “…when you ran outside…”

It was raining lightly, and she rushed to her car. She was late for work. Juggling a thermos of steaming coffee and a ring of noisy keys, she was distracted when she heard the high, girlish call. She realized with a start that she’d forgotten to say goodbye; she glanced up from the gearshift, discerning the beauty of her groggy, sleep-disheveled daughter. The front door closed in slow motion directly behind her, taking years to shut with a “click.”

“Oh the glory when you ran outside with your shirt tucked in and your shoes untied.” She softly sang as she lamented the hasty goodbye she’d hurriedly thrown in her daughter’s direction. The image was frozen before her eyes as she sat below the willow tree: a small hand, sleepily rubbing one bleary eye, while the other waved a tiny, unending goodbye – all the while, the front door was forever closing, eventually shutting with an echoing “click” of finality: closing on a life unlived, potential unfulfilled, and goodbye hugs-and-kisses neglected. Tears burned fiery tracks down an unseeing face, eyes too cold for the surprise that she could still cry after all these years. For hundreds of nights before and hundreds of nights to come, she would sit, replaying the last time she had seen her daughter alive.

“Oh the glory…”





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