My Mother's Wind Chimes This work is considered exceptional by our editorial staff.

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The pit-pat beat from my mother's bare feet on the cool draft floor tiles poured electrified slaps and thumps into my left ear. They flowed into the strict constraints of my ear canal and seeped into the darkness of my eardrum. Pounding and throwing tight white knuckles, they demanded admission. They demanded attention. They demanded submission. But their white fists sprawled open and reached out with clawing fingertips as I jerked my head to the left. I smacked my palm against my right ear until the last snarling tongue poured back into the circling slaps and thumps of my mother's burdened beat.

My mother's crystal green eyes followed the lines of black scuffs that slashed across our glossy smooth floor tiles from my father's worn steel-toe boots. One black scuff called to her and she stopped circling the dinner table to point her toe out to it and trace it slowly. A blank stare and a half-chewed bottom lip held her face. She snapped her eyes away and delicately bounced them across the kitchen until they stuck to me. I was sitting in the corner where my father once clenched and tugged his hair with his head buried into his knees. When I saw the shake in her breath and a smudged tear in the corner of her lash line, I threw my heavy feet to the ground, pressed my sweaty hands to the torn crimson wallpaper , and slid my body up. The back of my knees locked and I stood there watching her eyes scan the corner until my lead legs scooted to the door. I threw the screen door open, turned to my mother and whispered, "Sorry."

As I pushed the squeaky screen door open, a flashback of my father's stone cracked face appeared in the shadows of the front porch, where I followed him the night before. I had crouched behind the chair and watched him as he trudged down the concrete steps and into the frosty slush grass of the front yard. Lifting his face up to the sky, he fell on his knees and then dropped his face down to the earth. His straight-aligned posture gave in like an abandoned house that rotted until it caved in. After the wind blew my mother's wind chimes (the one my uncle Mike gave her for Christmas), he raveled up the strength to get back on his feet, turned to take one last glance at our tiny shotgun house, and walked off. When I screamed from the front porch "You can't", he kept walking as if my voice was overpowered by the ringing chimes.

I snapped my eyelids down, and then up again, and I scanned my eyes across the bare porch. In the corner, a dirt-worn white, plastic chair was the only object on the wooden floor boards. My uncle Mike used to sit on that chair, smoking Marlborough Lights and sipping black coffee until my father left for work in the morning. He would smirk and wave his hand until my father drove off, and then slipped into our house, while I waited for my bus on the cement steps. But, one morning my bus didn't come, and when I barged through the door I saw my mother smiling and caressing his face, just like she did with my father.

When the fiery frost blew and the cheap metal wind chime set clanged and crashed through the silence, I ripped it down from the ceiling. I threw the chair down the steps. I shoved my shoulder into the front door and jiggled the rusted door knob until the door flung open. My mother flashed her eyes at me as I stormed into the living room, where my uncle was watching the Late Show. I stood right in front of the television, threw the wind chime at my uncle, and said, "Leave." He smirked and opened his mouth to speak, but my mother interrupted saying, "Yes, Mike, leave."





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