Monday, January 12, 2009

Day 51: A Day in the Life

If only walls could talk...


Mr. Pelham had a sleepless night. The first rays on sunshine, pouring in the cracks of his window shades, fell across his open, bloodshot eyes. He threw his arm across his face, clenching and unclenching his jaw; opening and closing his upturned fist. Moving slowly, he rose slightly and took a sip of stale water from the glass sitting next to his bed, then falling back on his thin pillow. He tried to concentrate only on the ticking of the clock, and the sound of his breath in and out. He closed his eyes once more.

Downstairs, Krishna knelt before her shrine. Her hands and feet decorated in an intricate pattern, repeated on the step outside her door. She was perfectly still, as cool as water. Her saari a deep shade of blue, trimmed with gold, and her dark hair in braids. At her temples, the first shades of gray. The smile lines at the corners of her eyes and mouth betrayed a kind heart, still young despite years with a husband for whom she felt no affection. Despite the grief of a son who had rejected his upbringing and his parents for a blonde girl and graphic design school. She breathed, and she prayed.

One apartment over, the Tysons sat across from each other at the breakfast table. He put his wrinkled, knobby hand over the top of her tiny, gnarled fist and she smiled. He poured her a glass of milk, with a straw, and lifted it for her. She leaned forward slightly, shaking, and took a few sips. Some of the milk dribbled out the right side of her mouth, and he dabbed at it lovingly with a napkin. She smiled crookedly. He pointed out the vase with stems of pussywillows that Lavendar had brought, and asked if she remembered how much their own children had loved pussywillows in the spring. She smiled. Standing, Mr. Tyson wheeled her away from the table and into the small front room. He pulled her chair to stand next to his recliner, and put on the brakes. He adjusted the afghan over her legs--a beautiful afghan that she had made years ago, before her fingers had grown curled and rigid and painful to move. He stroked her cheek and asked her if they should watch The Price is Right or LIVE with Regis and Kelly. She smiled.

On the top floor, Lavendar Craven stood in front of an 8 foot canvas. Already spattered with paint, she had been up early enough to see the street lamps fade for the day. She dipped her brush into the Alizarin Crimson and pulled it boldly across the canvas, moving her whole body side to side. A small radio, covered with blobs of paint, sat next to her feet and filling her small studio with sound. She hummed as she dipped her brush into the turpentine, swishing it back and forth, finishing with a tap on the side. She stepped back to look at her progress, reaching back to pick up her cold roast beef sandwich off the plate on the stool in the corner. She took a bite and, chewing, tilted her head slightly to consider her painting. Ochre. It needed more ochre.

Below, Maggie paced the floor with Astrid on her shoulder. She sang "You are my sunshine" over and over, as the tiny head grew heavy. She swayed in front of the crib, rocking gently back and forth, watching the pudgy fingers slowly relax and uncurl. She leaned over and softly placed her baby in her crib, slowly and carefully so that she wouldn't startle and wake up. Maggie tiptoed out the door, drawing it closed behind her. Sighing and letting her shoulders fall, she went to face her stack of monthly bills and prayed there would be enough.


Bryce said...

This very good! You know so much about the Middle East, Sis Riding!

dave said...

this is one of my favorites. Somehow I missed it when you posted it. very good sketches. I really liked Maggie and Astrid - maybe just cause that's where we are in our lives. The many facets of being young parents.

You do write about so many things I've heard you talk about before, at least using them for references. Is that what all authors do? It had never occurred to me before.

One comment on "The Tysons". Is the part about them watching The Price is Right and Regis and KathyLee supposed to be depressing. ;)