Thursday, January 8, 2015
What follows is not a true story. With the holidays behind us, it's time to return to the heartbeat of Winter and the "usual" activities. Our writing group convenes today and the prompt is "Something Found in a Pocket". I do not write fiction and honestly, I came up dry when trying to recall any time I found something interesting in a pocket. I'm sure I have, but am also sure I can't recall such details. So, I fabricated a story that is perhaps based on truth and is woven with some things that I do remember so well about a wonderful part of my life. If you are a mother, this just might resonate.
It was that time of year, the one she dreaded so very much every year. From her own mother she had learned the expression, “season changeover” and she did what she usually did, waited until the very last minute of the current season to do this arduous task. It had been difficult enough when she was a younger woman, carefree and living on her own but now, as the mother of a four-year-old and a dutiful wife, it was so much more of a chore. Not only did she have to shift her clothing, but she had her husband’s and daughter’s wardrobes. With limited available closet space, she was forced to select those items that would no longer be “on duty” and place them, preferably neatly folded, into large and cumbersome plastic containers. She knew that if she wasn’t careful about the folding she would regret her haste when the next changeover was in progress. Ironing was not her favorite past time. Oh, she didn’t really dislike ironing, it was taking the time to do it, lugging out and positioning the ironing board and setting up the iron that she found hard to face. So, carefully, she placed each garment in the box, allowing enough room for a good tight closure before storing them in the already full closets. This was a job only she could do. Just as every mother knows her own child, this mother knew her own spaces and never ceased to amaze herself at how she actually did fit it all.
The big job ahead was postponed more than once. A late spring brought confusion. Some days, hats, gloves and heavy coats were in order and then, the very next, lightweight sweaters replaced the bulk. But, the past few days seemed to have resolved the question of what best to wear, and it was clear that warmer weather was here to stay. With that in mind that Wednesday morning, she came home from the pre-school drop off and, after a hasty second cup of coffee and quick tidy up of the apartment, she started the job that she knew would rob her of her precious time alone before the end of the school day. First, her closet, then Joe’s, the easiest. The most difficult, little Sara’s, she would leave for last. There were decisions to be made. What will she keep for next Fall and what would she pack up to pass on to her younger niece? It’s hard to predict the growth rate of a child who is expected to do just that, grow. She was sure that Sara would be her only child and it was that knowledge that made this job especially hard as she fingered the fabrics on the dresses and recalled with each little sweater some of the magical moments of the past winter and she wanted to put it all away, to go back to the winters before as if she could reverse time, as if she could stop time all together. Hats and mittens went into their own box. Those, she was almost certain, would not be outgrown as soon and would be ready for the first wave of cooler air before Christmas when surely they would be replaced by friends and family. Next, the bright pink puffy coat, the one Sara wore every day for months. Some children attach to favorite blankets or toys; Sara formed an attachment to that little coat, making it almost impossible to launder. Thankfully, there were both washer and dryer in the apartment and Sara took long naps from which she would awaken to her freshly-cleaned outerwear. As she handled the little coat, she knew that she needed something to replace it, so she unwrapped a tiny hooded sweatshirt, also bright pink, purchased some time ago in anticipation of the coming Spring. “She’ll be happy with this and we can say good bye to that coat” were her last thoughts as she decided to check the little pockets before laundering and putting it into the bag for her niece. Sliding her hand into the right pocket, she hesitated briefly as she connected with an object and then, another. Before bringing them to the surface, she allowed her fingers to explore what she had come upon, carefully manipulating them as she challenged herself to guess what they could be. The little objects, those she decided were plastic, had wedged themselves deep in the corner of the pocket, their current location telling her that they had been repeatedly pushed there by little fingers. Each was no bigger than half an inch and yet, they had form and the consistency of semi-hard plastic. Her fingertips, sensitive to touch, discovered that each had a rounded front and perhaps a pointy back. What could they be she wondered. What would a four year old girl have in her pocket? What could she possibly need? Wasn’t her mommy always there to fill all of those needs? She stopped herself and let go of her find for a split second and then quickly retrieved them, ready to be amused. “Well, this should be funny” she said to herself, a grin about to form. Instead, as she pulled the little objects out from their precious hiding place, in her palms rested a tiny pair of Barbie’s high heeled shoes and, in her own eyes, a tiny set of tears. Within seconds, the pink puffy coat was removed from the discard pile, its pocket replenished, and rehung in the closet of a little girl who had a mommy not quite ready to let either go, not this season.