Nothing about our days can be described as out of the ordinary.
Still, her presence reigns every corner of the house, a live reliquary
of almost memorable memories. Every morning between eight and
eight thirty seven the living room gilds with languid rays of light,
and you can see the inertness dancing with the dust. For a brief
moment, everything is red and gold, like fake plastic nails or old
powder brushes, or any of her secret guilty pleasures. Like a very
polite butterfly, and her voice comes crossing the house. “Who
wants to hear a happy song?” she asks uninterested in any coming
answers, right before Henry Mancini fills the room. The dust takes
off the tablecloth only to fall back on it shortly after. Sometimes it
takes a couple of seconds. Sometimes, a few decades.
She likes the tablecloths blue enough so that fishes can swim in it.
Once, I swam with them. It was a windy Saturday and the wind had
flown me all the way from Nova Scotia. She will always welcome us
the same way: a long hug, no smile, a short shot of red thick juice
served in a crystal wine glass. Behind her, a hurricane absorbs all
the ashes of the cigarettes she will light up but never smoke. That
day I had arrived late, missing our weekly round of ¨Blear the
Bust¨, our indecorous family game which consisted of performing
different sorts of perversions to an american white statue that we
used to call Mr. White – no one at that table would know that the
tortured bust was, in fact, Mozart’s. As I arrived late, I had to sit
quiet and wait. From the corner of my eye I watched her. We would
have stew and she was dressing up the fish: oranges, grapefruit,
lace, jewelry – these pearls are marvellous, her voice crossing the
house like a wildfire. I felt liquid, as liquid as the blue tablecloth,
and swam among sea basses and oysters. By the time the stew was
ready, my hair was dripping wet, Mr. White had lost his sight, and
we had all readily taken our seats around the table. Cutlery sounds,
distant splashes, beating wings, glazed laughter.
We never knew what the juice was made of. At times, the recipes
just ruin the flavour.