2. In the Cruelest Month

You are not ready for the monolith yet. The starry night fades at the edges of the world you wander in, but the sky above you is just as vibrant as it was when you began. The hues are changing, from yellow to pinks for the rose colored past that you proceed to.

A short walk down the crumbling street leads to a sidewalk, surrounded by dandelion infested lawns. The air is pungent with exhaust fumes, and the traffic noise pollution is just as putrid. Yet the sun is shining, the grass in bright green, and your heart swells with a contented feeling. You look up from your princess tennis shoes and see that you are on your block, the block that belonged to you as a child. Children sometimes feel as though they own un-own able things, because they love them or because ownership makes a child feel in control of their lives. This block belonged to you, because you rode your bike over it more than anyone else, and you appreciated every nuance of this place more than anyone on the planet.

It was just as you left it in your last visit to this memory. The large pine tree was still in from of your humble white and brown home. And your mother knelt beside it, eyes intent on something on the ground.

She was an incredible woman, or so you believe. That is what everyone says. You tend to believe them, but at times you wonder if she was human like everyone else. She is holding a featherless baby bird in her hand. Your mind knows now that it was flung from its nest by it’s survival-driven mother. But as a child, this little alien thing was just a creature that was temporarily possessed by your mother, because she could not stand to see a soul abandoned.

This act of obsessive motherhood reminded you for a photograph of her, working as a nurse in Columbia, holding the hand of an old woman with gauze on her eye. Your mother is smiling widely in this picture, but the Colombian woman looks less enthused. The hospital room is small, stark white, and something like what you had seen in a documentary about Ebola. That reminds you…

Your mind flashes to your mother on the toilet. She was home so few hours of the day when you were young, when she was home, you could not leave her side. You followed her everywhere, even in her most private moments. She did not seem to mind terribly, although you, as an adult now, realize that must have been extremely tiring. She sits on the toilet, reading a book with a brightly colored circle in the center of the cover. It is red, blue, and green, and the image makes very little sense to you. Now you know this to be the cover of a book called The Hot Zone by Richard Preston. You recognized the cover when you were thirteen, five years after your mother had passed, and decided to read it. The content was not meant for a young teenager, but it did impress on you the dangers of level 5 bio-hazards. It even made you want to become a biomedical engineer for a brief moment, before your dreams of grandeur were deterred.

Your mother’s hardworking hands delicately hold the baby bird, who cannot even lift its neck to protest. In the night, the tiny creature who may have never had a chance dies and breaks your mother’s heart. A few days later, she passes too.

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