Another writing assignment here. At one meeting we were given the task of writing about five hundred words and only using a personal pronoun once or twice, or some such nonsense. No horror show here. No blood or guts. Just bitter sweet wordplay.
DANCING IN SHADOW 443 words
Father’s funeral seemed so small.
The world should have stopped when he died. Colors should have faded into gray. Something should have at least happened that marked his passing as significant. Anything.
Nothing changed though, miraculously everything was the same though Father had been whisked away like a feather blowing from the window of a train.
Mother stood at the casket, looking down with red-rimmed eyes, lips drawn tightly together. Her breaths came in long sighs, each one painfully and bitterly drawn. I tried to remember the last time she and father had shown any affection toward one another. Other parents would hold hands or laugh together. Other parents sometimes gave glimpses of that child within. Other parents sometimes showed hints of what sparked passion before and what might still keep it alive behind the mask. Mother or Father stood together as strangers and shared the same shadow without joy.
“You never promised,” Mother whispered. “At least you never promised.”
Once Mother sat in the living room, silhouetted against the darkness. Father was hours late. She remained in expectant pause. When at last his foot sounded on the outside step, only then did her shoulders relax and her breathing become regular. Whenever she waited like this, she refused to turn on the lights.
“Leave them be,” she would say. “There’s nothing that needs looking at.”
Mother turned from the casket now, her face registering resignation. She moved forward and extended a hand. A sound came from her throat. It was humming. Soon her lips moved and she gave voice to an old song measured by hundreds of memories, each a broken facet of a whole reshaped in familiarity.
She moved her left foot and then her right, an old dance step. Her voice became stronger. Soon she was out of the shadow and across the carpet. Without breaking stride, she pulled me into step with her and the dance became more intense. Her eyes were alive and terrifying; they belonged to a stranger. She clutched with desperation, as though trying to hold onto something that inevitably must slip through her fingers.
As suddenly as it had begun, her song died. The dance ended. She stopped and looked about, tears flowing freely. Nodding to herself, she turned her back on what had briefly been her dance floor and stepped solemnly to the casket.
“You have your father’s eyes,” she said over her shoulder.