Held in the River of Time

June 26, 2012
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The heavens open up with thoughts of grandiosity, resplendent showers of warm water beat against the ceiling and tear down the window pane, twinkling down the chilled glass in crazy crisscross patterns. Obeying the laws of gravity that is bestowed upon the universe, water shimmies down the hill on asphalt to a pool alive with ripples.

Sitting with her legs gently placed against the edge of her bed, and her back erect with elegant composure, Ivy's gaze is directed to her television set, playing some impersonal tragedy that she barely listens to. Her ears support thick glasses, for the river of time has swept her through a decent part of her life.

Nothing around her displays pictures of friends, or her daughter with her husband living somewhere in Chicago. Only two pictures are propped against the window: the picture of a smiling man next to a smiling bride, and her grandson Jeffery. Jeffery. Pain grips her chest like a fist twisting flesh in opposite directions. Another fist with a different touch worries about her daughter who must be devastated.

The room just got too cluttered after a while with the mountains and valleys of artwork she made before. The other pictures and Christmas cards had to go. What happened to them anyway? She knows, however, that without her perspiration, she can not have papers praising her abilities framed around her bedroom.

Her mother once warned her that friendship is like silver. If you leave it untouched it starts to rust.

She averts her gaze to where gray light pushes through the window. Resplendent showers of warm water beat against the ceiling of her old house and tears down the window pane with the lone picture, twinkling down the chilled glass in crazy crisscross patterns. Just like it had for a couple of days now. In hypnosis from the constant pattering, her eyes are still. The gray color gives way to a lighter color. The pattering lessens some. A single raindrop runs out of the fray and confidently strides alone, not one other droplet merging with it again. It looks lonely, Ivy thought, feeling, to be blunt, stupid. Just before the drop reaches the bottom of the window, the drop slows down, as if waiting for company, then, just as quickly, blinks out of sight.

Ivy doesn't want to be alone when she has to leave. Deep in her chest she feels a hole opening up.

Please, she pleads, before the current takes me, I want someone to hold me.

She knows it is her fault, after all, that the artwork on her table and the framed papers on the wall take the place of the people who love her in her life, or had loved her. But pictures can't hold you.

How do you scrub the rust off silver? Despite her many credentials, she doesn't know.

She knows that when the current takes her, it will take her when she is alone. But oh, how she wished for someone to hold her close, hold her close against the current.

The air is dry and rough like old paper, yellowing at the edges. The red couch is elegant, yet fraying little wisps of angel hair. I like the couch better that way. The couch also matches the carpet which complements an abstract picture of … a naked baby eating tuna fish? Well, old grandma Ivy is an artist.

My eyes drink in the living room of an eighty-some year old woman: cozy, but definitely not in a fluffy teddy bear way. Gosh no, old grandma Ivy is a flame, well, a dying flame, and too fiery for that. Memories, yellow ones, paper albums, lined the back wall like spices and cookbooks line the kitchen wall – keeping her alive. Ice cream like a bunch of funny-dressed kids on a summer day at the beach.

Anyway, my friend Jeffery Williams loved this place.

Jeffery. The word echoed back in forth in my emptied head.

“What are you doing here. Who you be? Oh, I see, it's Mister Tom Shmite from down the block. How are you Mister Tom? My, it's raining hard out there, isn't it? Well, how are you?” a voice came from the bottom of the stairs, like the running of hands over crinkly sheets.

“Hi, Grandmother Williams. I'm good, I mean okay. How are you?” I said, my voice strained, an awkward stumbling of words.

“What a conversationalist. Tom Shmite. You know if you change a few sounds around in your name you get a nice sugary word?” She laughed - crinkle, crinkle, not boisterous at all. “How nice of you to see an old boring grandma like me. And refer to me as 'Ivy'. I don't like feeling old. A little piece of advice for you honey, don't get old. Don't have children.”

She really startled me. I must have been standing around for about five minutes, and I felt like an intruder. It's just that I've been here so many times before I didn't think twice about letting myself in. The door is always unlocked and she's slow to get it because she's always up in her room. She spends a lot of time upstairs. I imagine she's just another passive part of the room, another fraying pillow on the bed. She comes down whenever Jeffery and I come, though. I hate the thought of her being alone, I mean, think of how sad life would be all by yourself in a house that is the warmth on the ground after the sun is gone.

“It's … well … I brought, uh, cookies, you see, my mother -” I croaked.

“I don't like cookies much. Are you here because of Jeffery?” She said nonchalantly, but her hands gripped the chair handles. I notice stuff like that.

“Hey. Do you see that picture over there? You know, the baby and the tuna fish?” I ask, a train changing tracks.

“Unless I'm blind as well as crazy,” she says dryly.

“What does it mean?” I ask. I'm actually curious.

“What do you think it means?” She asked me. Gosh, I hate being put on the spot.

“Uh, maybe the baby represents youth. And the tuna fish growth. You know, and it's light in the background so the tone is joyous,” I explained.

“Shmitte, Tom, Shmitte. The artist was a loony and felt like drawing tuna fishes. Some things just are, and don't happen for any reason whatsoever.”

After Tom leaves with a promise to return the following week, Ivy reaches for her pencils and paint brushes.

She draws two raindrops on a windowsill in the process of joining. Past the window is a current. She will give this to Tom Shmitte.

She bit her nails a while. Then she took out a pencil and drew a picture of Jeffery. She sealed it in an envelope with words that were more than words - “Love, your mother”.

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