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January 13, 2022 Nonfiction

The Itch

Laura Morris

The Itch photo

Fall has stripped its skirts and dropped them to the cold ground. Burnt leaves cradle the desperate toll of mour-ning and hush the rattling gates of my over worked mind. ‘Tis the witching hour, when carved out faces melt under the canopy of night and lost souls crawl up from mossy pits, scraping their bones against bones.

I am reminded of a time when things were simpler. When children played with their friends unmasked and free. I am reminded that we once had faith that our leaders would lead or at least not lie with malice. I am reminded that “this too will change,” and that we will be OK. I am reminded that no matter how dark the night is, dawn will come.

But when?

            So much                                                           this and that.

                        We are only      what? Final

                                                S          C          R          A         T                      C                      h

Uneasy, I throw my pillow aside. It’s hot. Or maybe it’s just me. I never know anymore. Getting old is a bitch. Who said that? Someone famous, I think. Anyway, they weren’t kidding. I feel like I’m disintegrating. Who knew hormones would be the topic of my adult life? That I’d be reduced to dust before I’m 80. It’s a dirty secret to keep us chugging along, oblivious and fat and not interesting anymore.

I sit up, sweat covering my chest. My lover sleeps beside me, one leg tucked around the folds of an old wool blanket, exposing his naked limbs. He looks sweet, like a little boy. Dreaming of soccer balls and red fire trucks. A feather from the pillow clings to his head. I touch his greying hair. We are a thousand couples. A million maybe.

A truck rumbles down the road. The thud of a paper hits my lawn. A hint of pink light creeps up the wall from beneath the window shade. The promise of daylight. A newness born from the bosom of night’s watch. I stretch and yawn and pull the covers up to my chin. Soon things will need to be done. Another day. A reset.

I make out a button on the bedside table, ready to be sewn onto some-thing. I forget what. I forget lots of things. I forget to be kind. I’m forgetting how to love. I am shrinking. Like my mom. I see myself in her eyes. Her ashen face. Her linen skin folded over too many times. She’s eighty-two. An old eighty-two. Somewhere she gave up. Maybe it’s the pandemic and being cut off from the world. Maybe it’s that everyone she knew as a kid has died. Or maybe she’s just bored.

“This might be the last time we see each other,” she said. She held my car door open and looked at me with tear filled eyes. Knowing eyes. Sad eyes locked and loaded with a universe of truths. I drove away, watching her disappear in my rearview mirror. A memory already fading. I cried the four-hour ride home. I would not see my mother again in this lifetime. Or feel her soft cheeks against mine. Or know what it is to be safe again. Like when I was child, tucked in her pocket.


image: David Wright