Today is moving day. I take in a deep breath and let my eyes adjust to the spring sunlight I have just stepped into. I look all around, slowly, trying to drink in my surroundings one last time. My gaze falls from ridge to ridge along the mountains that encircle me, making me feel both small and sheltered at the same time. They’ve always done that. I’m not sure exactly how it’s possible to feel both, but I do.
The sky is blue, clear as crystal, not a cloud in sight. I smile. It will be a good day for travel. I look at the houses of the people that I have known my entire life. I have been theirs and they have been mine to watch grow. We have shared in triumph and tragedy alike. Today, that comes to an end, the last chapter of this novel of my life is being written with every breath I take, with every glance, with every quickened heartbeat beneath my chest.
I am not sad. I should be, the thought fleeting. I let it slip through my mind like water through open fingers. This should impact me in a life changing way. It should leave an imprint on my heart and soul. But it won’t. The imprint was made years ago, long enough that scars have grown over it. I have healed. This has not been home for quiet sometime.
Not since I learned the truth.
For me, this is not a new beginning, for I began anew with that same truth. I walked away from this time, from this place, many moons ago. Not today, with sky blue and birds singing, with sunlight dancing through green leaves and new branches. No, I left years ago, left in my mind, my emotions, my inner most being long before this day. The physical body is all that has stayed, and only out of necessity, simply dwelling here, not living.
I close my eyes and allow myself to drink in the warmth of day, the sweet smells and sounds that for so long, I loved. I open my eyes and take the first step down the stair case, then the second, and so on, until finally, my decent is over and I am far enough away. I don’t look back. I don’t need to. The picture is engrained in the farthest corners of my memory. I can see the small trailer, black trim against white tin, flower pots made from old car tires painted white with spray paint. A swing set used to sit where they do now, behind a chain length fence that acted as the boundary for my bike riding. Happiness used to reside. Not now. It died with Mom.
The thought of her sends my head reeling. It’s been so long, and yet I can still see her sun bathing there. It was one of the few times she had her hair in a ponytail. She hated her ears. She hated the way they stuck out. She thought they did anyway. I never noticed. With her hair away from her face, I saw just how beautiful she really was. Her green eyes that seemed to dance, her full lips, always with a hint of a pout, set against tan smooth skin. Those were the things I noticed. And her smile, sweet and humble, but eye catching. It could fill a room, not just light it up. This was her home, and always will be in my eyes. I’ve only been borrowing it.
I used to see her in every nook and cranny of this place. I’d look in the kitchen, and she’d be standing over the sink washing dishes. In the bathroom, her reflection would sneak up on me, her eyes staring back at me with hands raised to smooth down a stray hair. Her voice would echo, laughter ringing in my ears. It was too much to take, at first. My tears flowed freely at her memory, the pain radiating through every inch of me. Now that time has passed and the grief not so new, the reality that this place is just walls and ceilings and doors, only grass and flowers and air has settled within my soul. I know she’s not here and the wisps of her I see sometimes, the ghosts of my childhood that visit, it’s not enough anymore. Not nearly enough when I continually live in her shadows, denying what I could be if only I had strength enough to walk away.
I shudder. Even though there is no breeze, goose bumps prick my skin. It is thinking of leaving her behind that causes this reaction. It is foolish and childish, but an ach starts beneath my chest and courses through my veins. It fills every part of me, making it harder to breath. I blink hard. I will not cry.
“I love you,” I say aloud, for my own benefit. “Always will, Mom, but I have to go.”
With that, I take a match out of my pocket and strike it against a smooth stone. It catches fire immediately, flame flickering with every small gust of wind that rises. I drop it to the ground. I hear the cracks and pops of the fire gaining momentum as I continue walking. It won’t be long now until ashes will fall like snow and it will all be gone. But so will I. Actually, I already am gone, have been for years now.
My eyes focus in front of me. With every step the canyon widens between me and my childhood, and I’m okay with that. I welcome the space. I feel a song bubble up through my chest and before I can stop it, the words spill over my parted lips.
“Amazing grace, how sweet the sound,” the melody mingles with the sounds of the fire and I can’t help but smile. I am free.
**NOTE** This is my first attempt at fiction. Any and all feedback would be appreciated***
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