By now, darkness settles over the scene. The sun having long ago slipped into its descent; a nightly reprieve. Through the blinds, fateful slats of moonlight edge in. We are seated at the vintage kitchen table she brought home years ago, both familiar and painful. We occupy a liminal space-the pause between two points- totally immersed in the nowehereness we found ourselves. You, her lover, and I, her daughter, both sitting in the matching chairs that formed a set with this sentimental, formica-inlay, kitchen table.
You found her body the night she died, a murderous self-imposed act of passion and raw gut spilling loneliness in the small, downstairs bathroom. The shape of that moment haunts my mind like a wretched spectre and marks its fateful ‘x’ on my heart. I have finally summoned the courage, more than a year later, to come thumb through her possessions, claim my modest inheritance, and inhabit for the last time the place where my mother lived and died.
The visceral experience of being in the house for those days was unlike anything else I had lived through; at once a dreamscape and hair-raisingly real… So sincerely eerie and excruciatingly sentimental. The loss was so acute it clamored invisibly, begging for acknowledgement among her stacks of books and framed 80’s comic book fan art. The spirit of her lanky form hung amongst the drapes and yet answered to no call.
Here at the opalescent and wood patterned table (with a seam running lengthwise through the center) we are huddled, somehow in perfect indigo solitude. A stout bottle of merlot, frankly uncorked and residual on our glasses, rests between us. Alongside it, a faded pack of american spirits, a black vinyl ashtray and lighter. You tell me stories. Taking her on your expedition around the world (to test nodes in different locations that would later be sent to space? NASA stuff) the two of you found yourselves in Brazil. She, being crafty and persistent and with an eye for detail, found the villa in Rio at the summit of the steep steeple of the city. In perfect midnight, stars lit flamboyantly above, (you tell me), the two of you sit in a jacuzzi sheathed in steam and drinking wine naked and laughing at the cosmic splendor of a moment in time.
You reminisice at how she ripped out the old plumbing in the house you bought together, (where we currently sit) and taught herself how to install it all by the book… only later in the evening to wash the grout off her hands and nimbly run fingertips along the seam of a corset she was designing. The multiplicity, the tenacity, the uncommon edge she had. The sniper-specific precision, hell raising throttle and inhumanly intense caring that animated her person. She was a blade. She was a feline. And now she was a ghost.
This moment found the two of us utterly immersed in the darkness of the night, shamelessly indulging in cigarettes and wistfully naming her. Evoking her; calling her form to question in order to quell something in our hearts which could not be helped. Her name was Xmas—Christmas. She named herself; she was that kind of woman. Splitting the rule book down its seam and harvesting the raw materials for a new prototype. Recollecting this scene, and simultaneously containing the DNA of this insane flame (since burned out) I am torn to pieces and born anew. Constantly in this lifetime, having been birthed through this person, i am swaddled in the ashes of a phoenixes wake— to redefine meaning for myself.
I haven’t thought of this moment in years (five years now since she left), and here I am thumbing its utterance into form in the dead of night in November. Some etching of a memory that needs rekindling now. I let myself be moved. This moment in time, the subtle beams of moonlight illuminating the faces of Rob and I (at that kitchen table)— it was so human and yet ethereal. Something palpably mortal and also beyond the realms of usual human experience. This juxtaposition was like her essence incarnate— complex and impossible and personal. Drifting past the veil momentarily, as I traipse through the underbrush of the world in my adult life. Twenty-two and armed with enough experience of death not to fear it. Not to fear anything anymore, except allowing the days to slip by without waking up to it all.
I don’t know what it means. I have seen glimpses. But when I get extremely quiet I can feel the pulse of meaning, shrouded in mystery, and I have learned to respect that and not need to spell it out. Instead casting love spells for a destiny that will forever be changed and made deeper by the sprawling, irrevocable love conjured at midnight sitting at the vintage kitchen table.
-Morrigan Fey Alley