Collecting bottles, tossing leftovers, taking out the garbage
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Diana Stuart Greene is a writer living in Winston-Salem, North Carolina. Her commentaries have been broadcast on National Public Radio.
From the moment menstruation begins and the first drop of fertile blood appears, girls are trained to fear unwanted pregnancies. I remember well my initiation into the disquieting ways of my body: as my mother and I walked down the wet slate path toward the car, she turned to me, paused momentarily, and said, “We’ll help you out if you get into trouble.” (Trouble. A code word for pregnancy, dead ends, the facts of life not yet discussed.)
I can’t tell you this, but my mother has a dot on her lung. It’s a small dot, on the left lung. If her lung were a map of Texas, the dot would be roughly the size of the city of El Paso, which is large enough to be written in boldface type by Rand McNally.
As I walk along these cold floors to your room I hear the sweep of my nightgown sliding like a breeze through my aching legs. I am tired, Hanna, worn out from carrying too many boxes into this borrowed home full of someone else’s love for the color green. Why are you calling me now?
Her lips, loose and larger without dentures, move up and down in a pace that suggests more words are coming, but then, they stop. She has, I think, forgotten what she wanted to say. I don’t know what to do in these silent spaces between now and never again.