Tuesday, March 9, 2010

The House with the Purple Door

Found - 460 words
Sarah Van Name

***Note: This may appear to have nothing to do with the word "found," but in my mind, it started out with "found." But then 460 words wasn't enough for me to get to that section. I promise, "found" prompted it!***

Walking into her house after the funeral, even the air felt subdued, like a stage after the last performance of a drama. The door was as bright a purple as it had always been, and the constellations on her ceiling waited for the dark, as they always had, to glow. In the back, browning magnolia leaves floated in the turquoise of the pool.

The house was going to my cousin, but it seemed too soon to discuss the will, so my mom and I volunteered to sort through my nana’s things – at least the drawers and closets, the full places. It was strange to be there without her. My mom opened the screen door to the kitchen. “We should throw out the food in here before it goes bad,” she told me, and pushed up the sleeves of her black dress.

The refrigerator contained a stale loaf of bread, three grapefruit, and butter, unsalted. My nana was not a thin woman. She had always told me, leaning forward on her plump arms, that she would never go without butter, salt, or sugar, no matter what her doctors said. “It is better,” she said to me once at dinner, “to eat real food and die two years early than to spend those two years and the rest of my life surviving off margarine and that Sweet ‘N Low shit.” She then picked up a forkful of pie and opened the lipstick stain that was her mouth, delicately, to savor the cinnamon and fruit.

Three years ago, I visited her and while I was dozing by the pool, she came out to me with some soda and a cookie. I was twelve and starting to inherit her thighs, but I took them anyway. “I wanna tell you something,” she said to me seriously, and laid her hand on my leg. Her palm was as warm and soft as bread dough. “I just wanted to let you know that I’ve been reading the signs” – she gestured to the magnolias, the fleeting goldfish in the pond, the moon emerging from the white Florida sky – “and I’m gonna be dying in” – she squinted as if it was difficult math – “three years or so, from this month. I wouldn’t be surprised if it were summer. August, late August.” I believed her. The chocolate on my tongue tasted like it was from another universe. She tucked back a stray hair from my cheek. “I just don’t want you to be scared.”

She kissed my cheek, leaving a soft red mark, and walked away with the swagger of a woman who has known the secrets of the world. “It would’ve been five years,” she tossed back over her shoulder, “but I couldn’t live without butter.”

Sugar and Spice - Basia Bulat


  1. Loved it. Definitely something "found" there.

  2. this is beautiful. who cares if it's got nothing to do with the word of the day. i don't. :)