The house has been empty for months now, and neglected before that. Dark windows stare out. She looks up. The roof is missing shingles. One step, a shuffle, really, the past dragging at her heels, down the front walk, concrete cracked down to crumbles and a fistful of brambles. Her mind skitters across the back porch, her eyes wander to the horizon, shuttle back into the shade of the shuttered window eyes.
Lady-like she pats her hat, looks around. Her stockings are laddered and patterned with marks of poverty, her shoes carefully polished but the wear shows through.
Two more steps, still hesitant, but becoming more confident. She keeps her eyes fixed on the gravel rubble beneath her white white shoes. She stops again, rubs her hands, noting with vague surprise the raised map of veins announcing itself. Somehow she has forgotten her age. “Ashy,” she mumbles, and tumbles back in memory—a flash of sunlight and the porch is full of people, a woman rocking and fanning herself; a group of children laughing, two men smoking on the steps and a small girl sitting in the corner, looking on.
The house belongs to her. She wants to fall and keep falling. She closes her eyes and, frightened by the darkness behind her lids, immediately opens them. She looks down again, smooths the white skirt of her uniform, reassured by its crisp brilliance. In the dark dusk, it shines.
from “Living (4. House)”
CLARINDA MAC LOW