Excerpt from Ordinary Handsome. Available at amazon.com/dp/B00P46ZPA0 (Reposted from Dec. 24/14)
She wore her purple dress, the one he liked most, because it made her look so pretty. She stood by the sofa, looking pale and sad, and Dad was there standing beside her. He was wringing his hands, and his face was clean-shaved and just as pale. They were talking real quiet, just a few words, and Euart couldn’t make out what they were saying. He was only five, but he could pick up on their feelings. Both of them looked sad and lost, even in the middle of their own living room.
We’re going now, boy, said Dad, but going where wasn’t clear. That part of the memory/dream was white, and he remembered a hospital room and Mom wearing a hospital gown and an empty look on her face, like she didn’t recognize him. He recalled the hollow sounds of people walking in the hallway, on a floor so hard and polished it hurt his eyes. It sounded like everyone was wearing sixty dollar shoes.
There wasn’t much to remember about his mother. She was pretty when she wore that purple dress, nothing fancy, but it made her light up. Euart imagined her and Dad going dancing in the Community Hall, eating potato salad and barbecue, drinking beer and iced tea, sawdust on the floor and hay bales set beside the speakers. Coming home sleepy, Euart on the couch drowsy while a blur of a babysitter sat in Dad’s chair listening to the radio. He didn’t have those exact memories, but they felt right, like the shadow of a vivid dream. They were happy without having much to show for it.
He remembered the purple dress, and how Dad sometimes brought her yellow chrysanthemums when she was feeling blue. Colors, all colors, and then the dry whiteness of her not being there anymore. A blank page set between the memories. What was he doing, going back home to all that sadness? But where else was there? I will be received, he heard someone say, but didn’t know what that meant, or who said it. There was no one in Handsome ready to receive him.