Clara didn’t know exactly how long it would take for her to die. She knew three days without water might do it. She planned to never eat again so even if it rained, she could starve. She had no rope. No blade. Nothing poisonous to swallow. But she wasn’t going to leave this spot. She would lay there until she went somewhere else, without her body. She would let her thoughts go only to good things. To memories she cherished. Nothing now to think about aside from letting go. She didnt care if the memories were lies…not really. She played the laughter of her daughter over and over again like a movie. She felt herself smile. She wanted to leave that way. #nightwalk
Hannah dreamed that nothing had gone wrong. They were all together, their bodies side by side, warm air and warm skin. She dreamed that no one had changed or been revealed. She dreamed the way she imagined people do from the tops of buildings before jumping. Or bridge railings. Or before the chair under their feet is tipprd. Before the blade opens their wrists. As if thinking of them all together, like a single infant in the safety of the womb would be the best, final thought. Hannah dreamed she had what just hours earlier everyone agreed she did. Hannah clutched her pillow because she promised never to hold a gun so close to her head, and she begged her idea of the sandman, to stay.
Ruby stood outside the house where it had happened. Almost a year now. A bus ride and a short walk away from where she stayed now, with a foster family. Two more years and she would be 18 and free. Ruby wondered about why fairy tales never described love the way it happened to her. Maybe too much blood, maybe too much reality. Romance had happened to Ruby because a man named Heath had seen her go from the car to her front door, as her mother and father verbally listed her flaws. In court, Heath said, ‘I saw the beautiful light she was, extinguised. I saw her eyes go dark and look to the ground’. Heath told the jury that he loved Ruby before he knew her name. He believed he was on her street that day to witness her abuse…so he could save her. He regretted not taking her from the house as she slept… ‘if I could go back, I would do jist that’ Instead he removed her parents heads as she slept down the hall. He ‘Slayed the dragons’ he told the judge. Ruby visited Heath on Valentine’s Day, and told him that a new family was living in the house now. They talked about how much they hoped they were good people. Kind people. Heath put his hand on the glass that separated him from Ruby. She did the same and their hands were almost touching. ‘I never took the blade into your room’ He told her. ‘You look like an angel when you sleep.’ Ruby felt her heart race, and imagined the knife just outside her bedroom door, and Heath, bloody and on all fours, moving slowly towards her. He was an animal. A superhero. He was what she did not know love could be. Ruby told him she understood red roses now, and how he was like a moving bouquet the night he came to her. #nightwalk
Melissa’s grandmother walked everywhere. Even in the rain. Even on holidays. She rejected offers for car rides and she often moved more quickly than the buses. She was 79 and moved as if 30. Her mind was sharp and her heart rested her whole life, ‘in the right place’. People loved her because of this. Her kindness and fairness and her joy in movement. She wore her long grey hair down and could be seen softly turning her head, letting the wind carry it into the air around her head and shoulders. She looked like she was always hearing beautiful music. She looked like beautiful songs sound. It was strange when dhe did not show up on time at Melissa’s for afternoon tea. Melissa tried her grandmother’s cell. She answered but sounded strange. ‘some people wanted to talk to me’ she told melissa. ‘I’m close by now’ and she hung up. It was 42 minutes later and dark out when Grams finally arrived. She seemed different. Her stride was slow and she repeated her, ‘hello’ three times. Each as if it were the first. Melissa held the front door open so her grandmother could come inside. It was there in the porch light that Melissa saw the wound. A strange red on the back of her Grandmother’s head. Her grey hair stiff with it. Melissa covered her mouth with her hand and watched as the old woman tried to walk a straight line. Melissa reached for her phone to call 911 and hoped this would not be the last time her Grandmother moved through her house. In Melissa’s mind, she was cutting pieces of the person/s who had done this. The song her grandmother was, that music, had changed. When a lullaby become karaoke, and you can’t go back. #nightwalk
It was a memory. Arnold could not say how old he was when the moment took place. Took hold. Maybe 3 or 4 years old. It was a clear day and his mother and he were at the park. His mother had done her hair. Worn lipstick and a dress. She seemed to check her face a lot in a small compact mirror. They were on a blanket. The sky was blue. Grapes and cheese and deviled eggs and sandwiches were spread out. The sound of children playing and some sort of music filled the air around his ears. Arnold could tell his mother was nervous. He missed his small shovel and his mother’s soft sweatpants. He missed the kind of day at the park where his mother laughed as they dug in the sandbox. He wanted to play. His clothes felt tight. His mother touched his hair and tucked it behind his ears. Arnold lay down. He was hungry but they weren’t eating. His mother said to wait. The sky was the color of a toy Arnold had. He played with it in the bath. He was thinking of the toy when his mother’s arm crossed his eyeline and he heard her say as she pointed, ‘There he is… Here he comes… Sit up, Arnold… I want this man to like us.’ Arnold doesn’t remember the rest of the day. Just those parts leading up to meeting the man her mother liked. It was the first time Arnold felt his mother’s lonliness. #nightwalk #daywalk
Francine found it out back. Behind the metal shed that stores the busted lawn mower and the furniture her husband swears he will repair, ‘real soon’. She had gone out to get a better look at the sunset: there was a fire burning on the other side of the mountains and while chopping onions for dinner, she had glanced out and seen how the smoke had made the sky all the more beautiful. Her hands were still wet from rinsing them and her apron was canvas and hard on her hands. She held up her phone and touched the screen to capture what was so much damage by flames, and yet so delightful on this side of the hills. Birds flew by. Francine’s hair caught in her mouth and she looked down as she reached to pull it out. That’s when she saw it. Just beside her feet. Just beyond the shed. Just a moments’ walk from the back door. The body of her cat. She had hoped he had run away. She had thought of his possible adventures, and animals and humans he might have interacted with. She pictured him clever enough to look both ways before crossing the two lane highways. Kind enough to be avoiding peoples hens. But there he was. Almost completely decomposed and blending into the earth. Francine was both sorrowful and pleased. He had not run away to have adventures, but he had known it was safe to lay down in the back field when the ‘forever sleep’ was upon him. Francine squatted down and took a photo. She whispered that she loved him. The wind caught her hair again and Francine thought about what a beautiful view her cat had of the sky colored by fire. #nightwalk
Ella could remember the exact light… The way it passed, orange and pink, through the blanket tacked over the window. How her mother’s mouth looked. The round shape. The lines that were proof of her years of smiles. Ella could taste the orange juice she had already enjoyed and was now placing on the bedside table for her mother. She made it from oranges that grew over the fence and into their yard. Mr. Hammond told them to ‘help themselves’ to what reached out to them. Ella made fresh orange juice for herself and for her Mother, who deserved it. She worked all night watching inmates at the Prison. She wore her hair back tight and carried a gun more often than lipstick or love letters. She needed more hugs. Ella set her backpack down and removed her notebook. She wrote, ‘I love you, Mom. Sleep well, and…I think I just saw my daughter’s face in yours as you slept.’ Ella looked at her mom as she folded the paper. She had a sense that everything was okay. She knew she was as safe as any one person can be. She saw her daughter…that future face, there in the quiet of her mother, she could not wait to meet her. She could not wait to hear the two of them laughing from another room. #nightwalk #daywalk