Outdoors, it is a brilliantly sunny day in May, and the sunshine forces its way indoors unbidden.
Her apartment window is propped open, and a stiff breeze invades the studio, but no curtains billow: the room is empty now, its only decoration a mural of huge flowers in a riot of colors on a chipped and fading wall. She painted that mural with her own hands, but she thinks perhaps she should have put some of that effort into repainting the wall, as well. Now the too-loud colors of the flowers seem to scream at her from their deteriorating prison.
A clock ticks in the communal hallway, chewing away the seconds of silence as she ponders the mural longer than necessary. They are both killing time.
She roams her space, glad that walls can’t talk: they are nothing in her mind now but parallel lines fading into infinity. Openings to other rooms, simply intersecting parallel lines jetting off in different infinite directions. It vaguely conjures up charcoal-on-linen line drawings in her mind. She wonders if there is a word for that, something profound… but she can’t come up with it, and of course there’s nobody around to ask.
Wandering through the apartment toward the open window, she feels the freshly-shampooed carpet crunching slightly under her feet. It’s a difficult-to-describe sensation, yet one that so many have felt and would know: it’s the hallmark of a new beginning, and that of another someone’s ending.
She tries to think of how she’d describe what she came here seeking, specifically, this one last time -- to try to put it into words even if just for herself:
“Don’t worry, Mom, I’m just here to ______.”
“Oh, hi, Ken, don’t mind me; I thought I’d _____.”
She can't find the words; maybe it’s not the words that are the problem, after all.
Lowering herself onto the floor beside the open window, she spies a forgotten blue marble where it has lodged itself under the radiator. The globe has escaped notice, maybe over the course of many tenants. A slightly-dusty child’s prize, she imagines the thrill of a different child happening upon the hidden treasure at some point in the future; she leaves it untouched.
What treasures did she have from her time here? She needs a positive memory to take with her; she so badly wants to leave on a high note.
She idly realizes that a tiny white feather has floated on the breeze to within her reach. Gently, she surrounds the unanticipated gift with her palms and cups it. She holds it, bringing it to her heart… there:
It’s the springtime of the year, and the geese have goslings. She saw them down at the park pond just two weeks ago and was particularly smitten by a little one that was slightly wobblier than the rest, that day. You don’t think about birds being less-than-graceful, but it gave her several minutes of amusement, watching it try to climb the bank out of the water after the others. She smiles again now, remembering how it made her smile, then.
She had made a mental note at that time to bring it some seed when she came again, but then life happened and she had never remembered to do so, she thinks with an emotion that feels similar to regret, and yet…
She opens her palms again and imprints the thought. A moment passes, then she coaxes the feather onto the windowsill, delicately releasing it, and watches it swept away again. The pang of longing she feels at that moment, that unrelated moment involving something so simple as a feather taking to the wind, is indescribable.
She remains at the window long past dark, bathing herself in night sounds and the scent of the wind. She likes freesia, sweet pea, jasmine … none of those smells are here, but the night air is crisp and clean.
A dog barks in the distance, and then another. A third joins, and the chorus howls in unison. She hadn’t even realized that it was a full moon until she glances out the window into the semi-darkened night.
A thought occurs to her, its absence marked after all this time: why didn’t she ever get a dog? They don't allow them here, but it would have been so nice to have one around, and it wouldn’t be the first rule she had broken. Some people don’t like doggy noises, but she would love it so much, she just knows. She would never punish her pup, never ever make it sorry for its God-given voice that celebrates happiness and sadness -- and alarm -- in its own vocal ways. She feels an anger toward those who would shame dogs for their dogginess, and a true kindred spirit with those beloved creatures. She wonders if she could get a dog soon and thinks ... maybe?
A sudden flash of a life passed here comes to mind. The room is tasteful, elegant, softly lit; music plays quietly in the background. The window is wide open, and gauzy curtains waft seductively in the night breeze. A glass of red wine decants next to a plated dinner which has grown cold. He is here too, unexpectedly.
She averts her eyes from the scene; it dissipates, except for him. Larger than life, he is a presence here still.
Her belongings were put in storage, awaiting whatever comes next; she is a word which isn’t “terrified,” because that word isn’t right for the here and now. Terrified means there is a future to control, even if it is beyond control: a future in the known-but-still-scary. Hers is a future in the unknown; the thought causes her to suppress a shudder and take a gulp of fresh air. She tries to swallow it, but with the lump in her throat, she cannot: asphyxiation by strangulation, the coroner said.