Last Day

Image credit: Chelsea Darter. http://www.chelseadarter.com/
She exists a clam shell folded in the middle of the bed, her bedspread forming a waterfall of somber gray tears. She hears her daughter shut the door, probably for the last time, and step into the clear, bright light all around.

Yet the clam mother will remember it as a dark and overcast day. She will swear that she watched her girl walk down that road, only turning her head from the window until there was nothing left of her girl to see. She might even show one the scar where the knife slipped mixing her blood with the beet juice on the nicked cutting board.

She never remembered all the time in bed amongst the gathering smells, just the imagined hours spent on the dock watching her still shadow hovering over the muddy waters of the pond and the catfish circling away from it’s darkness— waiting for her hunter husband to return from
the coyote cull— so she can tell him the bad news never knowing whether she will receive his fury or forgiveness.

In the twilight of that last bright day and the beginning of a thousand overcast tomorrow’s he returned— the half ton pickup truck loaded with hides.

Three dead coyotes hung over the roof of the rear cab window almost like curious pups wondering why their still brothers and sisters in the bed below didn’t rise up and want to play with them.

The Stars and Stripes warehouse pallet (the one his daughter painted and gifted to him on one of her more sober days), which functioned as a replacement for the broken tail gate, clattered rudely to the ground.

A half dozen coyote pelts fell on top bombing the upper quadrant bloody.

That was when he would see it— the odds and ends of things neatly piled side by side in the distance where their property line met the road, in the area designated for city trash pickup: their black and white stove, their daughter’s
old pink tricycle on top, their white rusty refrigerator, the rotten picket fencing, the non functioning console tv with the cracked screen that stared back at him like an alien eye.

In the distance he heard a crack, enough to startle him, because in it, he thought he heard his daughter cry. From the house he smelled smoke.

Yet, neither the noise nor the smell was enough to rise the clam from its slumber. She dreamed until the dream became nightmare and the nightmare became hell and neither all the howling coyotes and screaming husbands in the world could ever wake her.