I startle when I hear the kettle on the stove hiss a little. I hurriedly rush to the kitchen to stop it from boiling over. The steam skates over the top of my hand. I pull back with a quick suck of breath. I turn the knob of the stove leaving the kettle alone. I return to my breakfast nook and see the disheveled seat cushions. I am taken aback. The cushions are lying all over the floor around the legs of the table. My pen and highlighter peek out from under one of the cushions. I reach for the highlighter first, snatching it from underneath the cushion and disturbing the location of the pen.

The yellow highlighter I was using before.  Its diameter, the thickness of my thumb. Smooth and slick. I turn it around in my hand, putting it between my fingers as one would a cigarette.  My fingers travel up the round thick barrel to the cover. The cover feels smaller and grooved like a small version of a Churro. It sits atop the round barrel. I tug at it. It comes off easily and falls to the ground rolling away towards a cushion. It stops at the edge of the red silk cushion lying next to the pen. The red silk cushion beckons to me. I reach for the cushion, accidentally jabbing it with the highlighter forgetting it was un-capped. I suck air through my teeth for the second time as I drop the highlighter and reach for the stained red silk cushion. It slips out of my reach.

It feels silky like the dress I wore to the Ball. It was my first formal dress. I bought it just for the occasion. Mark picked me up a half hour after she had said she’d be there. I was fuming. I was being honored that night. I couldn’t afford to be late. It wouldn’t look good… Gotcha! I finally grasp the cushion. I bring it close to me and sniff it. The scent was familiar. The cologne Mark wore that night. I look down at the cushion and see spots. I taste my tears as they hit my lips. I miss Mark. I rub the yellow mark mixing it with tears.

I stumble towards the stove hugging the cushion close. I grab a mug from the counter and place it next to the kettle. I reach for the kettle and stop. I grab my can of Earl Grey tea leaves from above the microwave. I dump a spoonful of leaves into the mug with my left hand. I still taste my tears. The cushion is slipping. I reach for it and drop the can of tea, spilling the leaves everywhere. I angrily yank the kettle by the handle. I fill the mug with hot water that is now lukewarm. I hug the cushion tightly and clumsily grab my mug with my left hand. I begin to walk back towards my breakfast nook. Before I can sit on the bench, I step on the discarded highlighter. The mug goes careening across the kitchen floor towards the living room. I let out a scream and try to keep my balance as I step around the pool forming at my feet. I hug the cushion tighter and search for my cell phone. I find it next to the pen and highlighter cap. I sink to the floor and begin sobbing.

I dial Mark’s home.

“Hello?” My voice trembles.

“Oh honey, are you ok? Are you alone? Would you like to come over?”

“Yes mom. Can you come get me? I don’t think I can drive.”

“Ok, I’ll be right over. Will you be alright until I get there?”

I nod and manage a mumbled response in the affirmative. I hope that being with the family will allow me to grieve more openly, surrounded and supported by those who knew her.

I look around me and begin to gather the cushions. I find the offending highlighter cap dancing on the surface of the tea puddle surround by Earl Grey leaves. Despite my disposition I grin at the scene. I rescue the cap and search for its partner. I place the cushions back on the benches in my breakfast nook. I drag the bath mat over to soak up the puddle dreading the mass of tea leaves I will have to shake out later.

The door bell rings.

“Oh honey! You’ve been through a lot,” she says attempting to cradle my 6’2’’ frame.

I kiss her on the cheek, and grab my jacket to follow her out.

Compliments of Robert Olen Butler (From Where You Dream)

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