Hand Me Down
by Tricia Ares
Life ends. Time does not. The aroma of okra, fried fish, and cornbread displaced by the pungent smell of must and mold. The clutter in the sink; the last remnants of dinner interrupted. I grip my stomach as I grapple with the paradox. It feels like yesterday...it feels like an eternity...since she slumped over just before grace.
Small wild flowers have begun to grow in the rotten floor boards, seedlings carried in through the mangled roof. The oak she climbed as a child, collapsed in grief three days after her death. The faint tap of claws scurry unseen while wings rustle over head.
Just new residents who can’t read the notice posted on the door. I peek out the window remembering I should not be there either. Particles dance on sunbeams between the tattered curtains, as my eyes adjust to the bold light beyond this cool interior. No one has seen me enter. Or, no one cares. Either way, I am grateful.
Hinges creak as I open and close cupboards, finding only utensils. In the pantry, shelves are stilled stocked with canned goods and unused preserves. Her apron hung on a nail with butterscotch candy nestled in the pocket.
The drawer in the hutch catches what’s left, coupons, pot holders, a box of matches...and a book whose loose spine and brown pages crackling like autumn leaves. A salty tear joins the butter stain.