Cherry Almond

She was in the room. I felt her in my mind and saw her with my heart. She was right over there, near and untouchable. Radiant but subdued; bright but in shadow.

She remained beautiful.

“What are you doing?” she asked quietly.

I was quiet. I knew the always-ready response I had used all throughout my childhood in response to this question which she had asked thousands of times.

“Staring at you” I finally said, like I was supposed to.

I felt her slightly smile. But there was also pity in her smile. 

I winced.

“I love staring at you, Mom, you know that. I’ll never stop.”

“I know; it’s okay. Thank you” she replied.

I didn’t recall her ever saying thank you during this conversation we frequently had.

I paused to stare again. What was I missing? She was there before me but something was off.

I started an inventory:

No shoes and her toe-nails which were not painted. That was odd, but not too odd I reminded myself.

She was wearing a white nightgown that was very soft, by the looks of it. I wanted to touch it; touch her.

Her hands were soft and they smelled of the original Jergen’s Cherry Almond lotion. 

How did I know that I wondered?

“Stop thinking and just do inventory.” I told myself.

I continued.

She wore no jewelry.

It didn’t seem like she had makeup on, but I couldn’t be certain. 

Her lips were full. Was that lipstick?

Her eyes were hers; light brown, direct, challenging, loving. 

I held her stare as best I could, then looked down to her nightgown.

The nightgown dipped from her neckline and the sleeves, while loose, only fell slightly below her elbow.

The nightgown wasn’t white; it was off-white I think. I stared at it; at her.

“Sweetie, what are you doing?” She asked again. 

But neither her tone nor her volume changed.

“Nothing. I miss you.” I replied.

“I know you do.” she replied, and I could see her smile again. It wasn’t pity this time. It was honest.

“You always said you’d always think of me, didn’t you.” she asked.

“Yes, I did tell you that. I’ve never stopped, either. I think about you every day. Every single day.”

“You used to, but not anymore.” she said, calmly.

I felt confused. Then guilty. Then resolved.

“I’m sorry.” I offered earnestly.

“Please don’t.” she said sternly. You finally have a reason. She’s beautiful. I love her, too, and I watch her, just like you watch her. And liked you used to watch me.”

I felt relief. Absolution.

“It is as it should be. Besides, I’m always here, as you know.”

“I do know, Mom, but I still want to think about you every day and keep my promise.”

“Do you think about her every day?”

“Yes, I sure do.” I replied with a smile.

“And how often do you think of me now?” Mom said in her mom-voice that told me she knew the answer.

I thought for a moment. Every other day. 

She smiled a big smile. I smiled her same smile back to her.

“Thank you, she said as she began to dim.

I felt warm liquid escape my eyes and slowly drift down either side of my face leaving a warm trail on the sides of my head.

I was waking up and didn’t want to.

I looked one more time and this time Mom was close to me, hand reaching out to my face where my tears were still languishing. 

I smelled her hands as she gently touched my tears and carried them away while leaving her cherry almond aroma in their place.

© 2020 by Myron J. Clifton. All Rights Reserved.

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