Sunday, June 27, 2010

Like a Crack in the Wall, Starting Small and Growing in Time

Fossil - 396 Words
Aaron Dethrage

This attic is the result of decades of neglect. The dust evenly cakes everything from head to toe, as if someone has meticulously spread its feathery matter over the boxes and bags with the utmost precision and care, but no, we’re just unbelievably lazy.

The kids are far from thrilled, but together we stand (the kids, their mother, and I), clad in our finest paint and/or bleach stained clothing, ready to take on the task before us.

Already, I feel terrible for how the day is bound to progress. What hypocrites we are, their mother and I. Years of, “if you had just kept your room even remotely maintainable, it wouldn’t take a whole goddamn two hours clean it” and “do you even know what color your carpet is?”

We were angrier back then, still fighting the world, still certain that we could win. Docility comes with age, I suppose.

Pre-lit Christmas Tree. Dad, what the hell is this?” The aggravation of her required attendance and a sense of injustice bite and crescendo through every word.

Sarah, our baby–eighteen now–remembers a lifetime of annually going out into the blistering cold to watch me mutilate the base of a cypress tree–two weeks later than we had originally planned, all of the good trees missing, and with barely enough time for it to mean anything–because that’s what Christmas was "supposed” to be like.

We never told her that it was a tradition we had started for her first Christmas–Jack still too young to remember anything differently–just so they’d have some sort of tradition to believe in. In reality, we dreaded the damn day in the snow just as much as they did. Maybe more.

I’m trying desperately to come up with anything that can justify the yelling and the cursing of eighteen pre-Christmas harvests, and then, it happens. My shoes, waxed by the dust that lines the floor, tangle into a knot under me and I plummet to the ground, a plume of smoke rising as my proxy.

It is there, on the floor, I realize that we're all just fossils, digging through the dirt of our past. The mother and I, fossils of parenthood, tyrannical and cruel. Jack and Sarah, fossils of youth, defensive and numb.

Dust settles into my hacking lungs, but none more than was there before.

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