April 11, 2015: We always knew.
September 30, 2014: She felt like flying.
→For my own delight, and for yours I hope, I am introducing a new series of short pieces to be posted on Fridays: Friday Flash with Lindsay. I don’t really know Lindsay, but I sort of feel as though she and I are writing buddies. Lindsay (that’s the only name I have) is a long-time visitor to my site, and a frequent contributor of brilliant small pieces of writing drawn from the Daily Journal Prompts I post. Together, Lindsay and I will bring a selection of these works to you…if not every Friday, certainly many of them. I hope you enjoy reading these as much as I do. And I hope they inspire you to try out the Daily Journal Prompts yourself. Oh, and take a trip over to Lindsay’s site, too, for more good stuff: Just a Writer’s Page.-PMc←
KISS THE SKY
‘Scuse me while I kiss the sky – I remember that line, from a song by Jimi Hendrix, and I heard it first in 1967 and I thought it must be possible. Then it was 1970 and he died and I thought that was part of it, and he was just off kissing the moon and the stars and the sun. ‘Scuse me while I kiss the sky.
But that’s not the way it is. Nothing so wonderful. They laid him in the ground and flowers for his head and food for worms, same as our mam. She’d had cancer and I didn’t even know what that meant. And she grew thin as sticks and her cheeks sank and her eyes stared and her hair fell out so she had to wear a wig. It didn’t look so different from her real hair, and I thought that was a lost opportunity. I thought she could have worn one of those afro wigs with a purple scarf wound around her head and she would have looked a little like Jimi.
‘What happens?’ I asked our dad when we were driving home from the hospital and it was the end of days, her days, and her breath rattled in her chest and a monitor by her bed counted out all the seconds she had left without saying how many that was.
‘What happens?’ he said.
‘Yes, when you die. What happens when you die?’
He inhaled and held his breath a moment in the puff-ball of his cheeks. I thought he looked like that black trumpet player and his whole face bigger than the moon and swollen as if he had toothache on all sides.
‘Truth is I don’t know,’ said our dad, and straight away I knew that was a lie. And he said something about heaven and stars and angels, and I stopped listening and turned the radio on and ‘Purple Haze’ was playing and he was excusing himself so he could kiss the sky again.
Then came the day, the last day, and she had no breath more in her and the monitor by her bed was silent, and the clock by her bed should have been stopped but it wasn’t, and a fly was on her cheek and she did not brush it away, and though I wanted to, I didn’t either. And our dad said we could say anything we wanted to our mam and maybe she was still sort of there in the room and she’d hear our every word.
But put on the spot like that, with no thought beforehand, well I hadn’t the words to shape anything into something, so I said nothing and that was how it was for almost a year. Not a word or a song passed my lips and our dad said to everyone not to worry, but somewhere deep in him he was worried.
Then one day I was on Miranda’s trampoline out back in her yard and we were seeing who could bounce the highest and it came back to me then, that song by Jimi Hendrix, and I sang as loud as loud is when they are your first words for a year, and I sang the one line over and over: ‘Scuse me while I kiss the sky. And I did, I swear it. I pursed my lips and at the highest point of my leaping, I kissed the air, and the sky kissed me back and I thought of angels and our mam and Jimi and all of them somewhere if they were not here. And why not there, why not there in the sky and blowing kisses to us all, only we are too busy to know this sometimes? And though I knew it was all just pretend, everything was different after that.