Wednesday, August 5, 2009

left behind

it is the nail file on the windowsill near my seat at the kitchen table that gets me thinking about it. this is the only evidence that remains of my once-upon-a-time-successful attempt to stop biting my nails. but it's proof, solid and real, of something that once was, and not too long ago, too. one look at my hands tells the rest of the story, of the eventual demise of this attempt. but the evidence remains: i once needed to file my nails.

sunscreen-greasy fingerprints on the glass door. a leaky water bottle on the couch. a wet bathing suit on the carpet. several books, overturned on open pages to mark his spot, strewn on the floor, the couch, the coffee table. yellow crocs by the front door. a wet bathtub motor boat. this is the evidence of a summer day in his world. were he not here now to tell the story of his day, one could gather the evidence: the pool, the library, a bath. evidence of a summer day.

but the evidence that she was here grows thinner with passing time. her photos still grace the walls, yes, and the bookcases and shelves, too. but the little-girl-sized hair tie i toss when i clean the bathroom, the stray sock i stash away when i clean under the bed, the lip balm--her scent, cherry mingled with menthol--i sniff and then ferret away in a trunk full of memories: these things, the evidence she left behind, dwindle and diminish daily. i no longer find white-blonde hairs tangled with my black ones in the comb i once shared with her. long-gone is the dish drainer that once held measuring devices and formula containers and syringes. the smells that were hers--that cherry-menthol lip balm, her aveeno baby soap, that indescribable scent that was her cheek; even the unpleasant smells of spit-up and stale formula and diapers and white vinegar for cleaning--are all evidence that she was here, evidence that has been slipping away.

when i put away that nail file, it doesn’t erase the fact that one day not too long ago i managed to stop biting my nails. nor does the nail file’s presence there do anything in the way of bringing those nails back, except to me, perhaps. i don’t like filing my nails, really, which is how one snag leads to one nibble which, inevitably, leads to the end of the whole experiment. nor did i like cleaning up her spit-up, changing her diapers, or tending to her mercilessly chapped lips. were those chores, those smells still here, it would not bring her back. were those hair ties no longer useless, those mate-less socks once again a reminder of laundry to be done and done and done, those syringes and vinegar waiting for one more round of sanitizing, it would not bring her any closer.

except to me, perhaps, a little bit.

1 comment:

Cortney said...

I was thinking of miss eliza today as I was putting lynn's charity packs of aveeno on Micah. amazing how scents have such reminders...