By Sophie Dess
This was when I’d lie transfixed by the light that only came on Sundays, with my small body wrapped in a quilt cocoon, my head pressed against the pillow and eyes open and eager. I’d study the pale green of my walls, lit in that tender, rustic way. Lit in a light so delicious that my nails would itch to scrape it off the wall and taste it, to capture its green warmth in a jar and let it glow, perennially, in a darkened room where maybe I’d take a peek at it for a secret thrill, once and a while. But, alas, all I could do was inhale it. One deep breath after another I’d imagine my insides illumined in the same hue of green.
On Sundays this light kept me in bed until the thought of her lap drew me downstairs. I knew it’d be waiting for me at the head of the kitchen table, where she’d be sitting reading the paper, coffee and cheerios at her side. The large bay window behind her made the morning sun her backdrop; she looked as gentle, as celestial, as ever. “Good morning Miss. Bobo,” she’d say to me as I crept through the doorframe, dressed in pajamas and a little smile.
“Mooooommy!” I’d feel the patter of my socked feet against the wood as I ran to her chair, and ungracefully climbed upon her lap. As I’d contort my legs to fit comfortably, I would relay my dreams with that boundless enthusiasm only a child can make endearing. I can hear echoes of that small, eager voice ringing in my head.
“Ohhh,” she’d respond while half reading the paper, a spoonful of cheerios paused right before her lips: “that’s very spooky bobo!”
I’d agree and would nuzzle my cheek further into her robe, trying to figure out where its plushness came from. But I couldn’t nuzzle hard enough; and despite my deep breaths I could never access the source of that smell of lavender (was it her breath? her skin?); and as hard as I’d try, I couldn’t close my eyes tight enough to make these moments eternal.
Which was a shame, for soon I’d come down on Sunday mornings to find her chair empty. The sun would still sprawl over the kitchen table, but with no one there to enliven it. No robe to nuzzle, no lavender to inhale. No one to whom I might relay my dreams. My imagination roamed in the void, and suddenly I’d imagine being her: disturbed by a loud child in the midst of her morning peace. Suddenly I could hear the sound of my pattering feet through her ears: approaching annoyance. And suddenly the tenor of my remembered laughter shifted, distorted like in a dream. She herself became a dream, those mornings became mere dreams, and soon I’d sit on her chair in the quiet green light and tell them to myself.
Sophie Dess is currently completing her master’s degree in English at NYU, where she focuses on representations of consciousness, gender, and the art of humor in Irish, British and American Modernism. She is also co-founding president of NYU’s Literary and Intellectual History Colloquium. Upon graduation in December, she simply plans to abide Newton’s first law by continuing to write unless stopped by external force. But even then, she’ll keep going! In addition to literature, she adores live jazz, Malbec, and, most of all, dogs.