My mother once had something like it. Hers was a clay pot painted yellow from the dried sap of a tropical tree. It was a little heirloom, passed down from her grandmother’s mother, to her grandmother, then to my grandmother who passed to my mother. It was the symbol of womanhood, she was to pass to the sister I never had. Mother would tell me, it served as a connection to her ancestors. A portal of blessings, giving its keeper answers to every prayer a woman could utter. It had a lid equally painted like the pot with an opening on top of it. The pot was not the only heirloom she got from her mother. There was a figurine and some cats. Yes, cats. Animals she took great care of like her very own children. It annoyed me. There was this one time; she refused to get me something I asked of her from the market, citing inadequate funds as grounds for her refusal. Yet, she came back with a lot of cat food, for her miserable animals. At the point, my mind just stopped working. I picked up one of the newly born kittens and put it in the yellow pot. I felt little waves of pleasure wash over me, as I filled it with water through the hole on the lid and sensed the little beast beneath it claw about for survival. It felt like lying on my back with tiny grains of sugar trapped between my tongue and the roof of my mouth. Mother never found her kitten, although I helped her look. I buried it deep beneath the clumps of bushes behind the house.
But Emma’s wasn’t like mother’s pot. It was an exquisite piece. A deep beauty with a gold top and a pattern tattooed all over it, like the beautifully crafted henna of a skilled makeup artist. It was an antique decanter and had the type of class only Emma could spot, with her sky-high taste and impeccable perception. She could spend thousands of cash on an empty classy, ceramic-like thing and think nothing of it. She had brought it home one evening, wrapped in brown paper, smiling a little too loudly. From experience, this was my cue something was up.
‘Hey hon, what’s up?’ I said, wrapping her in a bear hug, shortly before our mouths locked.
‘Step aside Mr.’ she returned between kisses.
I released her and backed away as she stepped into the sitting room, taking the parcel towards the bar. Knowing her – the author of suspense, I let her be, pretending I wasn’t interested in the parcel under her left arm. It was only when she started unbundling it, revealing the beautiful container my bells shivered; I knew instantly this must come from the antique store near the beach and it was dew proof expensive! Yea, much like the picture hanging on the wall overlooking our bed and the ash tray she had bought days before.
‘Seriously Emma?…’ I started, my face the picture of subtle exasperation.
‘Hey! it is beautiful and was just standing there on the rack. I thought I should rescue it.’ She cut in with a wink.
‘But the money spent on this could be spent on something more useful’ I replied with an extra stress on the ‘more’.
‘And this is not useful?’ she flashed, in mock anger. ‘Come on, it’s art… they will outlive us all.’ She finished, giving me a taste of my own line, quipping with that smile she saves only for sex and such situations.
This morning made it the third sunrise since I returned from the hospital. It is 11:53am and I have been sitting all morning, watching the decanter and listening to the drip drip of water from the roof – a tell-you sign of the morning rain. My figure I am sure, was already forged into the wheelchair, like old scraps of metal fused together in a blacksmith’s backyard. Fused, used and forgotten. It was probably the only thing I was a part of now; the chair. None of my members seemed to know me. My mind wouldn’t work (not perfectly), even as I tried to make it. It was like the dreadful walls of Jericho had been reenacted around my mind and no precise train of thought could shake it, even by attrition. So I just sit, letting what thoughts, kind enough to use my head as their bus station, have their fare. Hilda the temporary help and my nurse had finished her shift earlier in the morning and had gone home, leaving me alone once more… alone. A flutter catches my eyes and I shift my focus from it; for the first time I am sure in hours, to Willow – my pet canary, watching it sing and fly about in his cage. Months before, I would be on the sofa watching television, wrapped in the embrace of casual clothes and the euphoric freedom of a Saturday morning but not today – not this Saturday.
Her Saturdays and mine (when I find the strength to summon my members so early), used to start with a thorough swipe of the house. She would spend time on it on getting to the bar, taking her time on its curves. I would watch her while vacuum cleaning, quite jealously, waste time on it; touching its turns with a piece of cleaning cloth. She never let me fill it with anything, much less touch it. It piqued me sometimes to see her show so much attachment to a container, a mere thing than she does to me. Most times, I felt like smashing it into shiny white bits, reducing it to a dusty existence like I did Sonia’s shoes, years back in junior mid school. I didn’t actually slash Sonia’s shoes to bits; I simply tied a piece of metal to their straps and threw them down a well. She was a brown eyed bimbo I used to crush on and she knew it. Why I liked her escapes me, maybe it was the cluelessness she carried about her like a jacket that amused me or the brownness of her eyes, I can’t remember. Her constant backward glances and naïve smiles in class showed she felt the same… until someone got her those low-heeled shoes with a chirpy perk to it. She would take occasional glances at it while she walked and spent time cleaning it when she was alone. I thought nothing of it, until a week later when I noticed I had disappeared from her consciousness and her shoes were all there was. She normally took them off when she had to play with her friends after the bell, under the big African Star Fruit tree and I only had to wait patiently until she took it off and the rest is history.
Rain water no longer dropped from the roof. Very soon, there will be no sign the rain fell. Today would have been Emma’s 28th birthday. I remember our first date four years ago, her sleek black gown and her eyes blowing me away right before she got to the table. I recollect the awkward hug before we settled to dinner. She didn’t eat like a bird, and wasn’t inhibited by my presence from showing it. That solidified my pull towards her, like a moth to a flame; the fact that she could be and act herself without letting anyone take that from her or push her into coating her rough edges with smoothness. She was proud to wear her rough edges, like her or hate her.
My eyes move back to the decanter. It was her favorite possession, even as yellow was her favorite colour. The tunnel in my mind was opening, little by little and I could control my thoughts now. I turn the chair around and wheel it towards the window, stopping there a bit to watch the horizon. The morning it happened wasn’t misty or dark like they write in the books or scripts. There was no presage (at least objectively), that anything was going to go wrong that day as we left the driveway simultaneously. We even had a date set for that evening. We would rush back home after work, change, then be on our merry way. I remember vividly my face in the opaque glass door. I watched it change from the smile from seeing Emma’s number flash up on my phone screen to the frown that coated my face while listening to a stranger tell me about the accident. I was a bat out of hell, driving to the scene where total strangers gave me instructions on the direction of the hospital. While driving towards St. Claire, it comes to my mind the only thing I was conscious of, was the horizon and how yellow it looked.
Emma left soon enough but before that, I felt like breaking while holding her hand, watching her leave. I winced each time she tried to smile at me through her agony after she came to. I thought about the pain she must feel, the turbulence her core must face; her very essence and consciousness being torn out of one pane, chewed and tossed into another bite by bite.
“Stan,” I heard faintly.
“yes?” I replied softly, raising my head from the brief slumber I had slipped into by her side.
“I have something to say” she replied, even more weakly.
“what is it… anything… I am here, all ears…”
Her breath began to come in gasps, with her bandage covered limbs convulsing.
She didn’t get a chance to tell me what she wanted to say. It was as if the burden from talking was too much. Her eyes rolled back and she was gone.
Emma was the synonym of supportive and faithful. Yes, supportive, with any other nice appellation one might want to throw in. She had the most amazing body – pure fire radiating warmth at every turn. We had been married for eighteen months, and didn’t want children yet, because I hated the idea. But Emma, I loved terribly, ever so fiercely…
It’s almost evening and the horizon is turning a deep red. My mind is clearing up little by little and the blackouts are now less frequent, just like the doctor said it would. I had taken some pills capable of killing me hours after she died, hours after they wheeled her petite form into the morgue. It took the doctors 6 months or so to piece my mind together again. But every now and then, my mind would take an epileptic dive putting me out in the dark for hours.
‘Emma was faithful’… my mind snaps to attention, ‘faithful’ what would that mean?…
My thoughts are more precise now. The way they get, before a seizure. The trains start coming… like butterflies to petals – the memories of phony readers’ night out with her friends, the pictures from the moments she spent with him while I went away on business and those steamy sessions they had, when she thought I was out of town. I had lived each moment with her after I found out, conscious of her betrayal but I coated it with a happy exterior like they coat those cheap gums they sell by the beach with red and yellow taffy. I feel dizziness washing over my eyes in sheets, like white translucent drapes over a shimmering window and I can’t shake it off. The horizon has begun to look like golden spools of yarn now, turning… spinning…as I remember cutting her brakes, and looking furtively at my phone all morning until the call came. There, a fallen kitten … puppet in my pot.
I feel nausea. The seizure would come anytime now and I would be out for hours. I take one last hazy look at the amber horizon, cross the room to the decanter, hurling it with my mind, into dark pieces.
Photo credit: http://www.collectorsweekly.com