Abandon ships. The dead flies on the windowsill didn’t make it. Spent most of their abbreviated lives trying to get out. Trapped. The ledge–brushed with latex gloss–paints a ghost memory of a small white coffin with simple steel hinges. Can’t ever forget that oblong box–a silent pearl rolling down the aisle with Jesus waiting at the other end. That’s what they told us. Eileen and leukemia were the names and things she was born with.
She remembered Eileen’s angel hair pasta falling out piece by piece. Those sweet snow-set blue eyes fading to blanched water. Hair and eyes disappearing away with school visits until they stopped all together, same as the flies trying to break though the screen to reach heaven. She wished she could’ve shared her brown mop top with the pale yellowed girl. None of the students were fortunate enough to love Eileen. She was a wisp on a wing not meant to flutter on earth. That’s what they told us.
At tea parties, Eileen might have adored her pink eye patch. She would have told Eileen the pink eye patch didn’t bother her half as much as the clear plastic gloves. An awful rash had settled between her fingers that year. So much time spent itching her knuckles on the carpet until a few fingernails fell off. Gloves and cream. That’s what they told us. They couldn’t fix Eileen. They couldn’t fix a finger rash.
She hoped no one was laughing at her pink eye patch or plastic gloves. Eileen would have understood had they ever had the chance to play. The pink eye patch didn’t fix the astigmatism. The gloves made her hands sweat in the summer. Today, she wears glasses sometimes wondering if a pink eye patch would make an interesting accessory. The finger rash is long gone but since hellacious fourth grade, pinky and ring fingernails grow at a ridiculous rate. Flies will arrive and die attempting to get out. Flies are not sweet and beautiful like butterflies. When you see a butterfly’s wings flutter, it means a spirit is visiting. That’s what they told us.
It has been over forty years since that beautiful, golden-haired child passed from earth. Her little white coffin dug a permanent image into my chest. As for the flies, they will continue dying on my windowsills until I find screen doors for the basement studio. The pink eye patch and plastic gloves, well, sometimes we are granted small challenges to help us grow. As is the way of life for us, there were a few more challenges after that. I suppose I should be grateful. Challenges help us grow into good and decent folk.
That’s what they told us.
this little character affectionately named Gallean makes appearances from time to time
a sign that you’re growing creatively is when drawing cute is not so horrible, especially when you mostly enjoy creating beastly critters with blood-filled gums