For August, Emilio Pasquale provided the following photo that I used as inspiration for a story. If you haven’t already, you should check out his blog – he knows how to edit photos (I, on the other hand, do not!) The story begins after the photo…
Ramona Schmidt dragged her index finger through the inches-thick layer of snow on the truck’s hood. Like her heart, the snow had frozen, thawed, and been refrozen so many times. Like her soul, that rusty truck held enough memories to haunt several lifetimes.
“Mama, won’t you come inside?”
Ramona didn’t respond.
“She’s been standing out there for over an hour,” Paula said to her husband.
“Maybe she just needs some time.”
“She’ll freeze to death. It must be twenty degrees out there.”
“She’s wearing a coat.”
Paula scowled. “There’s no talking to her.”
Ramona frowned. Since her husband, Davy, had turned up missing sometime after the leaves colored and before the naked trees stood stark on the horizon, her daughter and son-in-law came to live with her. Whispers of dementia carried through thin walls; slow words delivered by raised voices. The way they talked about her like she wasn’t there infuriated her. She slipped a cigarette from the pack stowed in her right coat pocket. With her left hand she clicked the lighter and brought the flame to the tip of the cigarette pressed between her lips, taking in a long drag as the tobacco smoldered.
“Mama, I think you should come inside.” Paula draped an arm over her mom’s bony shoulders. She glanced at her husband- he nodded and headed toward the house.
Exhaled smoke escaped in tendrils. “I’m fine here.” Ramona fought the urge to shrug off her daughter’s condescending touch.
“The man is coming to look at the truck in about an hour.”
Ramona brushed her fingers along the exposed rust. That truck was already several years old when Davy brought it home. She’d never forget how he showed up that evening and said he wanted to take a mining job in Idaho. She didn’t understand why he couldn’t just mine copper in Arizona.
“If you’ve changed your mind about selling it, I can let him know.”
Ramona pursed her lips. “Winds change, minds don’t.” Eyes closed, she lifted her chin. As if on cue, another gust whipped a layer of fallen snow into the air. Her wrinkled cheeks, a topographical map of her years, stung from the latest assault. Her skin had grown dry from the hours spent outdoors at the mercy of an unforgiving winter. “My heart has gone dry from years of neglect.” She flicked her spent cigarette filter and ground it into the frozen hay with the toe of her fur-lined leather slipper.
“What?” Her daughter leaned closer. “What do you mean?”
“Thy will be done,” Ramona said with a shrug. She didn’t realize her ideas had translated to spoken words. She stayed immersed in the space between, where memories and new thoughts commingled in her brain. More and more, it became difficult to differentiate between real and manufactured history. The permeable line separating thoughts and words diminished with each passing day. She giggled. “Incontinence of the mind.”