I couldn’t sleep, so I decided to take a trip down memory lane. I found a few things I forgot I’d written. Pretty sure I’ve never posted this. Im not sure if it’s finished but I think I like it the way it is.
Writing Prompt Wednesday (1)
“In The Closet”
As children, some of us are very curious. Some of us, when told not to do something, we say “Okay” and walk away disappointed. Some of us say, “Okay,” but then wonder, “Why?”
When Jane was a child, she was often told to stay out of her mom’s bedroom. She listened, most of the time. But when she got older, her imagination always got the best of her, and she’d sneak her way into her mother’s room, just to peak in drawers or look under the bed. She always got caught though.
Her mother would scold her, “What did I tell you?!” Then she’d point demandingly toward the doorway, and watch as her marched her butt out of the room.
Jane often imagined her mother was hiding piles of stolen money, stolen in a daring bank robbery committed before she had children. Or perhaps the family’s Crown Jewels were hidden somewhere in the closet, and they must be kept secret, lest evil henchmen of the dictator who ran the rightful rulers out of the exotic land discover their whereabouts and kidnap and murder them. Jane was a very imaginative child.
But she soon grew older. School and friends and life became more important than discovering her mother’s “secrets”, and the fun little game she played with her mother—against her mother’s will—was forgotten.
One day, when Jane was not quite an adult but no longer a child, her mom got sick. The toughest woman she’d ever known got sick, and never really got better. Jane watched in distress and fear as her mother slowly deteriorated, the vibrant light she once carried ebbing away.
The day her mother died, Jane had spent the day by her side. They’d been told there wasn’t much time left, and Jane wanted to spend the last moments they had together not worrying about trivial things. She just wanted to be there for her mother, to let her know she wasn’t alone.
While her mother was in and out of lucidity—she spent more time in that heartbreaking haze of “here but not”—Jane still wanted her mom to know she was there. She’d talk about her day, her friends, sing a song, read aloud. She did not expect her mom to respond, she just knew that if the tables were turned, her mother wouldn’t leave her side.
They’d spent the day this way, keeping each other company, though it was a one sided task. During a quite moment, Jane had just finished a passage from her book, when she glanced up at her mother who hadn’t moved much on her own in days. Jane was shocked to see her mother reaching out to her.
She stood up quickly, grasped her mother’s hand, and leaned in close. “I’m here, mom. I’m here.” For the first time in a very long time, she turned to Jane, looked her in the eyes, and smiled. Tears very suddenly burst from Jane’s eyes. With great heaving sobs, all the stress and pain and loss burst forth and she couldn’t hold back anymore.
But though Jane sobbed, her mother smiled. She reached up to her daughter’s face, and rested a cool hand on her cheek. Jane pressed her hand against her mother’s wanting to remember that feeling. She began to calm as her mother smiled up at her, and soon both were smiling.
When Jane had calmed, she began telling her mother how much she loved her, and her mother just nodded in response as if saying, “I know, Jane.”
Very soon, though, the light began to fade, and her mother felt it too. She lifted her hand once more, this time in a familiar way. She raised her hand and pointed her finger, and Jane flashed back to her childhood of sneaking into that very room to “investigate”. Now, instead of pointing to the bedroom door, she pointed to the closet. “Not now mom,” Jane whispered, taking hold of the hand that pointed and squeezed gently. Then her mother seemed to muster her last bit of strength and whispered, “In the closet…”
A few days later, her mother was laid to rest precisely where she’d have wanted, next to her husband, and the flowers had already begun to wilt in the summer heat. Jane was resting at home, her mother’s home. Though she tried not to think of that day, her thoughts kept wandering back to her mother’s very last living moments on the earth. The brightest smile, the touch of her hand on her cheek. And that barely audible whisper, “In the closet.”
She stood up, and despite being a grown woman whose mother had recently passed, she still felt like a naughty sneaky little girl, whose mother was about to catch her tiptoeing into her bedroom. But now, instead of pulling on drawers and looking under the bed, she made a bee line for the closet door. She half expected it to be locked, but the knob turned and opened with no resistance.
For a moment she stood there, just looking at her mother’s clothes. There were items in there she’d had for years, here the dress she’d worn to her daughter’s graduation, there the slacks she’d worn when they visited college campuses. In the floor were shoes she’d not seen her mother wear in years. “I might still need them one day,” she could hear her mother say.
She looked up at the shelf above the hanging clothes. Folded neatly there were old bedspreads and quilts, tucked away until cooler nights made them necessary. But in the corner, pushed against the wall, and tucked under a stack of sheets was an old fashioned hat box Jane had never seen before.
Careful not to pull the sheets down on top of her, she slid the box out slowly, surprised at the weight of it. She carried it over to the bed and plopped it onto the foot. For a moment she just stood there, wondering what was in it, and allowing her childhood imagination to wonder.
Finally she took a deep breath and opened the lid.