Mom’s Tissues Are No Match for the Wounds of Time

"Time of Mother," flash fiction by Jefferson Navicky

Mom’s Tissues Are No Match for the Wounds of Time

Time of Mother

Mother finally came for a visit. We don’t know why it’s taken this long.

We were happy like the end of fall. The day glimmered. We went for a walk in the woods with the dog in the all together mode of what was cut out of us.

Sunlight dappled the path, maybe that was it. Roots, of course, bulged irregular veins, maybe that was why. Perhaps it was her unexpected decline.

Mother fell without a sound. We turned when we heard her cry out. She was sitting on the ground, we were holding a handful of her blood. The hand is not a good cup. Good thing I have tissues, Mother said. Mother didn’t have enough tissues. Yet somehow the bleeding stopped. We decided to turn around and go back home. The dog lagged behind to smell and re-smell Mother’s blood and to retrace her fall.

I won’t do that again, Mother said. Her face had swollen. My face is fat, Mother said, I hit my face. Mother said, I’ve had enough of the woods. We decided to stick close to home. That sounds good, we all thought. Let’s not overdo it, we said. There’s nothing worse than overdoing it.

Then Mother fell in the yard. Or rather she stumbled hard. A little foot clip on the grass and she couldn’t walk. She couldn’t sit down. She stood. She hobbled. We supported her as best we could. Mother didn’t say she wanted to go home, but she wanted to go home. We could tell.

Mother said, I’m tough.

Mother took aspirin. Mother took heating pad. Ice pack. Bathtub. Arnica. Gin.

The foot’s worse than the face, Mother said. Right foot, right foot, lead with your right foot, Mother said. Mother will not come back to visit again soon. It’s not our fault, but it happened on our watch. It’s time. Catching up with her. Time to rest. By the time it was time to go home, Mother sat in the back seat. She didn’t say much. We drove her. We wanted to climb inside her. We wanted to steer the rest of her life. We wanted to be her eyes. We wanted to be the light underneath her feet. We wanted to always catch her blood and put it back in. We looked at her in the rearview mirror. She seemed unsteady even within her seat belt. We wanted to be closer. We wanted to be too far away. We wanted it all. At once. It stripped us of ourselves, the way we all used to be. Together. We saw Mother onto a bus. Goodbye, Mother said, it’s time for me to go. We drove away empty of everything. Time got the better of us.

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