September, California

In the late afternoon, everything is hot in my parents’ backyard. My aluminum chair; the stucco house behind me. The cement walkway where my mother in her homemade apron is looking for the old cat. She makes the clicking sound we all do when around our animals, then her own exclamation of pleasure when the cat emerges from the blackberry bush for its dinner. My mother’s back is soft and rounded now, her gait uneven. Nearby, my father is watering the pots of tomatoes, although the leaves are yellow and crumbling. His hands are scarred from skin cancer. He’s taken to wearing a big hat. My parents move before me in their daily rituals, uninhibited in the way people are when they’re with family. With them I leave off being a wife and mother, becoming their child again. We have had forever, but it is nearly gone. My metal seat reminds me of the beginning, when I would burn my thighs on the slide in our first backyard. Once I was locked out of the house. My mother appeared at the glass door, opened it, and embraced me. I wrapped myself around her brown legs like a feline, like a vine. I held on. One day, when my parents are gone, and their house sold, I will be a daughter no more. But for now, I have them and all that is before me — the last warmth of the day, a sun that hasn’t yet set.

Lynn Mundell’s work has appeared in apt, Bird’s Thumb, Fanzine and Permafrost. Her stories have been recognized on the “Wigleaf Top 50 Very Short Fictions” long lists of 2017 and 2018. Lynn is co-editor of 100 Word Story and its anthology “Nothing Short Of: Selected Tales from 100 Word Story.” Learn more about her at lynnmundell.com.
Photo by Lars Blankers

 

 

4 thoughts on “September, California

  1. These words bring tears to my eyes as I reluctantly approach the first anniversary of my mother’s death. Each word tugs at my heart like a harpist strumming a familar melody. Here I am as a wife and a mother, with a new title to my name – a bewildered orphan… Life’s cycle feels so cruel when all you left with is memories of the way life use to be.

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