Chapter 20, More
Flickering of bright light…
Brings to mind a flashlight’s battery nearing death, but determination of the holder knocks it upside the head with hand, relentlessly.
Full blown brightness…
The brightness dims, settling to a soft light, shadows rise in corners.
POP! POP! POP!
Lamps burst bright, followed by a shrinking sizzle.
Lines, shapes, forms…Dimension comes to life, pushed forward from the background, hard at first, then softened.
“Ivy, Ava’s here!” The voice is distant, trailing off at the end, as if being pulled away. Little feet pitter-patter, accompanied by laughter and shrieking. It, too, has a haunting detachment.
A gust of wind, air displaced, rushes by. I seek out the form that caused the movement, but nothing is there.
Vision begins to clear, crisp edges to objects. I am in a hall, wall to my right, kitchen to my left. Soft pallet consumes the space in gentle greens, blues, and gray: a wonderful soft, but deep and sophisticated, gray. Before me, the living room opens to the right, the dining room beyond the kitchen to the left.
I hear a crackling, pop, then sizzle. Heat expands.
My eyes are drawn to the erratic flames, captured in a stone fireplace anchoring the living room, the back of the sofa our only separation. A wall of shelves spans the entire length of wall running from the dining room through the living room, broken up only by the fireplace.
“Ivy! Ava’s here! Will you get the door for Mommie?”
I spin on my heel, following the pitter-patter from before.
A girl! Brown braided pigtails bouncing, eagerness exudes.
The switch is flipped: light erased.
In the blackness, I see the afterglow of the shapes and movement that just were.
I blink repeatedly, involuntarily, trying to adjust to the new lighting conditions. I take a deep breath, eyes closed, coughing on dust. Opening my eyes, I see the dining room to my right, an office corner on my left, previously nonvisible, closet doors in front to the left of the front hall. I back up, bumping into something solid, scraping it against the floor. After my initial ridiculous reaction of being startled, I realize it was just the sofa table behind the sofa from my memory. Now facing the fireplace, I notice where the main illumination from the vision came: to the right of the living room is an entire wall of windows, with a door barely visible hidden in its center.
Then it hit me, smack in the face: while this apartment is being used for storage, all of the furniture from when I lived here still resides within. There are boxes scattered about, pushed up into corners, but it is quite easy to make out everything that I just recalled.
I am remembering, piece by piece, my life as a child. It is excruciating and hard. I still feel lost and scared. I still don’t have any way to string these memories together. I wish my brain were like an embroidery machine, pumping out the pattern of my life in clean neat stitches revealing a beautiful composition of what was.
I feel weak, faint almost. This is too much. As I begin to sway, I walk around the couch, hands never leaving the furniture, and sit down. I bend at the waist, resting my head between my knees.
Ava and I are sitting on the floor in the living room, having pushed the coffee table up against the couch. Mom had just gotten off the phone in the kitchen.
“Ivy, honey, I have to run down to the store real quick. Grandma needs help. There are cookies on the counter. Love you!”
With the click of the door, she was gone. A mischievous look was exchanged between us girls. We had mere moments to accomplish our task. I got up and ran to the right side of the fireplace.
Placing my hand on a stone about four feet from the floor, I gently pulled it out, shifting it from side to side to help it give way…
“How did you find this?” Ava asked incredulously.
I didn’t answer, I just moved.
I am floating. I remember lifting my head, but somehow I walked to the fireplace, stone already in my hand.
Reaching my hand into the cold dark space, my fingers wrapped around a wad of paper, I am still grinning. My goal is to shock Ava…
One wad is a stack of envelopes…the other…a stack of money…
My jaw drops. In my hands are the letters, blanketed with dust, edges yellowed and curled. I sneeze. I look back in and see a couple of bundles of cash, though I do not touch. I am stunned…I continue to waft in and out of my memory…
We are sitting on my bed, quilt covered in orange and pink flowers, connected by bright green foliage set against a white background. I begin reading aloud:
My dearest Rosemarie,
I am not sure how to start.
I love you. I need you. I miss you.
Father has forbidden me from having any contact with you. I cannot stand this. But, as we have agreed, neither of our families can handle a scandal. I wish to write to our daughter. Somehow I will always find a way to let you know I carry both of you in my heart - Forever and always.
Please let her know how I love her, and that my absence is for what is in her best interest.
“So, you see, Ava? My father does love me! He never wanted to leave me!” I was beyond ecstatic. And Ava was stunned.
“Wow….” I had left Ava speechless…but not for long, “Why is it typed?”
“Probably for anonymity; if he was concerned at being found out that he was communicating, maybe he typed it up in case someone found it…”
“Too bad his name is worn away; otherwise you could search for him.”
“I do know his name: Chet…that is how he has signed his name on many of the letters and post cards.” I sobered up pretty quickly, thought, “But, I wonder why my mom lied to me about him…”
Tears streamed down my face, rivulets of pain, wonder, and confusion. Sitting on my old bed, reading letters from someone I had at one time believed was my father, but at that time aware my mother had lied to me about the biggest thing a parent can lie to their children about.
So many questions circling and colliding, not sure where to go in search of answers. Why did she lie? What scandal would have erupted from my parents staying together? Why was I such a secret? No wonder everything is locked in my mind, even from me: I grew up in a family that held its secrets close to the heart, and far away from other members of family.
Then I remembered the money…where did that money come from? And why was it hidden?
Who was my mother? Is this why I can’t remember her? Because she buried herself under so many secrets?
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