by Judith Quinney
“Time. Time….time. What was that song from the ‘60s? The one with that ginger-headed singer with the pretty voice? Oh yes. ‘Who Knows Where the Time Goes.’ Who, indeed. What time is it now? Eight? Eight-fifteen. Carrie and Frank will be here at ten.”
Maura rolled painfully onto her back, the song fading from her mind as she thought through what she had to do today. Right now, it was time to conduct. Maura chose some Bach to get her blood flowing.
As the piece played in Maura’s memory, she conducted the orchestra, raised hands above her torso as she brought in the instrument sections with graceless twists of her wrists. After a time, she rolled onto her left side and pushed up into a sitting position on the edge of the bed. Maura circled her ankles as her joints popped painfully. The pain eased as her joints woke up from a night of idleness. Today, her daughter and son-in-law would arrive to begin the process of packing up and moving her into their home.
Maura put on a housecoat and slippers, hobbling first to the bathroom and then to the kitchen to put on the coffee pot. She rounded off the edge of her coffee with a dash of two percent and carried it into the living room. She sank into the old couch, looking out the picture window and into their backyard. She and Jenny had put in natives and perennials to support birds, bees, and all varieties of wild creatures. All that work all those long years ago had paid off.
“Look! Look at the chickadees scolding that fat squirrel on the feeder. They’re so fearless.” Entranced, she spoke out loud, her voice cracking like an old rusted hinge forced into service.
Maura took another sip and settled her aching back against the couch cushion. She dropped her gaze to the handwoven rug that warmed the floor, caressing it with her dark brown eyes. It depicted birds in a stylized tree, dyed in rich shades of rust and green. Jenny bought it on sale at an import shop going out of business, returning an hour before the store closed for good and bargaining hard for the opportunity to own such hand-made beauty. They positioned the rug on the wall opposite their bed, going to sleep and waking up under the boughs of that treasured tree every day.
Three years ago, Maura took the rug down and placed it on the living room floor, midway between the couch and the backdoor. Since that day, she walked along its borders and rarely looked at it except when she vacuumed. Now, her gaze settled on the center of the rug as she spoke out loud again.
“There. Right there. I dropped to my knees to hold you. ‘No, don’t leave me. I’m not ready!’ But I already knew. You went where I couldn’t go. Well. Now I’m the one leaving you, Babe. But not for long. No, not long at all.”
© Judith Quinney, 2020