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Concise Prose. Enough Said.
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Like Everything Was Going To Be Fine

By Paul Schweer

Inside a low drawer, with a glass knob and
brittle layers of paint, there were
milk cartons cut in half full of string
and wooden clothespins, springs gone tired.

In the corner was a bleach bottle
holding pins that might hold the line.
If in the bottle was a pin with wood not
yet turned dark, it would hold tight
my thumb, which would swell, nail throbbing,
blue surrounding the small half-moon white.

Carry the bottle of pins to the line,
hold one at a time, reaching up.

She would hang the white sheets to the wind.

***

It happened at the kitchen table while I was waiting
for the school bus. Dad was there, and my brother. I
don't remember exactly what went on, but my dad had to
pull me away from her. Mom wanted to keep me home.
She wanted me to stay there with her. Dad pulled me
away, said I had to go to school.

"We can teach him here."

Dad said they couldn't, and he pulled me away
from my mother.

It was always a little like that with my mom.
As I got older I got better at keeping my distance
without being ugly to her.

I'd see her once a year, near the holidays. I
overheard her one time, talking to someone after I'd
left her room. "He's a Marine," she said. "They're
the best."

Last time I saw her she smiled at me, held my hand
with both of hers, nodded her head like she approved.
Like everything was going to be fine.

***

In the guest bedroom is a heavy, roll-top, dark-oak
desk. My wife gave it to me a long time ago. I
haven't done well with it. It is full of clutter.
Stuff I don't know what to do with, don't want to
throw away. Don't know how to organize.

There is a little drawer under the roll-top.
There is, lying inside that little drawer,
a tiny old black-and-white photograph.
A woman with a wide-eyed newborn.
A mother holding her baby boy.

 

Paul Schweer is a part-time student at Rollins College. His work appears regularly online at AikiWeb. He lives with his wife Cheryl in Apopka, Florida.

Paul is a frequent contributor to VerbSap. His last work for the magazine was A Man Who Counted On Me.

Photo of courtesy of morgueFile's Monosodium, Reading, England.

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