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The Tablecloth

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I’ll never forget that tablecloth. Bright blue and sprinkled with tiny yellow daises, it holds many memories of my childhood. When I was younger it was only brought out on special occasions, and only in the warm, cheerful months. I remember many Easter Sundays, climbing on to the rickety brown dining room chairs in my frilly pastel church dress to take in the sweet-smelling feast. My birthday is in April, so each year for my special family dinner the tablecloth was brought out, decorated with bouquets of my favorite purple sweet peas and dainty baby breath, and covered with whatever spread I had requested. In the summer the bright light would often come through the dining room curtains and cast a sunny yellow glow across the tablecloth and throughout the room. Because of the lighting, Mom would have all of us kids stand in the dining room for impromptu photographs, and the tablecloth often made its way into the background, shining brightly in many of my childhood snapshots and memories.

Spring break during my junior year in college, it is my first time coming back home in years. After greeting my parents, I wander around the home and take in how much darker and quieter it has become since all of the children had moved out. But I linger in the dining room, the place that holds so many magical memories. I touch the old, bare wooden table, and my eyes rest on the linen cabinet. Sitting on the dusty floor in the dim room, I look through the drawers, carefully taking out and stacking old fabric napkins and placemats beside me. Staring into a drawer, a dark teal corner suddenly catches my eye. Moments later, I pull out the tablecloth. I immediately notice how faded it is. The bright sunlight had taken its toll, leaving the fabric significantly paler. I unfold the cloth, rubbing the fabric between my fingers and examining it further. It’s stained, but I smile as I quickly connect stories to each stain. The fabric is worn, but only because it shared so many special moments. As the memories start flooding back, so do the tears. For a moment, I wish I could turn back the clock to the carefree days of childhood. But I can’t, so I sit there clutching the beloved cloth and relishing in the stories it holds.



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