November Second

I hear her quiet laughter echoing through the carnation-pink walls of her room, always brief and barely audible. I notice it because it is rare to see the curving lines of a smile extend slowly across her round, weary face. Her face was never smooth porcelain skin. It was wrinkled like the rest of her plump body. I feel her arms wrapped around my shoulders, protecting me, and my fingers slowly graze the velvety, excess skin above her elbows. And as the hot breeze blows through the marigold petals surrounding her grave, I hear my own voice, booming and desperate for air as it transcends through the thick, multi-colored walls of her house on that humid summer afternoon. The last afternoon I spoke to her and said, “I wish you were dead.” Fear makes me say things I don’t understand, and on that day, I feared I would lose her loving, wrinkled protection once she saw the growing frail roundness under my shirt, where I had once proudly bared a slender waist.