“Memories stolen”, an unofficial title.

Sunlight has a funny way of invading the room. Streams of light peer through the cracks of fabric sworn to protect the fragile glass.

The sunlight today is more invasive than usual. I have an intuition of something big on its way. I was not wrong.

My aunt Flora is a funny bird. I never questioned it until recently. She is one of the select few with thick black-out curtains. Her excuse, since I was young, was her late-night shifts. Now that she no longer works, the darkness prevails. I never questioned it. I would be remiss if I said I never thought about it.

“How’s the job search going?” Mom asked. Her voice singing with the sound of eggs crackling in a pan.

“Nothing still. I haven’t heard from any of the companies I applied to, except one.” I lamented.

“And?”

“Sorry, we moved forward with another applicant. I say they’re lying.”

“These are uncertain times.”

“At least you still have a job.”

“Look, many people are still out of work. I have an idea, how about you keep aunt Flora company. She might know of someone looking for a fine employee like you.”

“She’s creepy to me.”

“Oh stop.”

“What if she bites me?”

“Just because someone works overnight, does not mean anything. Flora still did her daily duties around the house and went to the store like everyone else.”

“Do you know if she will go back to work anytime soon?”

“That’s a question you can ask her when you get there.”

“I don’t know.” I drank my coffee. I need time to think about it. Flora is disabled, for now.

“How about I call her, anyway?” Mom extinguished the flame before portioning off breakfast. “Why do you think Flora is creepy?”

“The way she dresses, the way she speaks, the way she is. It’s not just one thing about her that I find creepy.”

“Believe it or not, she has always been like that. I remember being kids and she would walk around with books on her head because she thought that’s what good women did.”

“How old was she when she did that?”

“I was six and she was twelve.”

“This validates my concerns with her.”

“You were an odd child too.”

“Was I?” Mom leered at me. The way she does when she is about to tell a wild tale. The storyteller in her freely painted the scene.

The year was 1996 when you were a wee lass of only (born 1987) eight years old. Grandma Betty sewed, by hand, a southern Belle’s costume for Halloween that year. The summer waned, but it was far too warm for you to be wearing such a heavy fabric, yet there you were frolicking in the dress.

I pinned the hat on your head so the wind would not take it. She happened to have sheep. You herded them as though you had done it before. I am still amazed by your imagination.
Your imagination scared me too.

When you were nine years old, you relayed a story of how a cousin of yours had a dog that dug holes in the backyard. The cousin in question had died years before you possibly could have met him.

“That was me?” I asked incredulously. Mom nodded her head, eyeing me as she ate her food. I stared blankly for a moment before I even thought about sticking my fork into the cooling eggs.

“You are not so different than either of us.” Mom smirked a devilish smirk. I have never seen her so amused.

I ate what I could. She cooked wonderfully, but I was enamored by her story. I insisted she call Flora after breakfast. Mom agreed, but I had to wash dishes. May that be the worst thing that happens to me today.

“Flora, Hi. I have a question.” Mom meandered into the living room, the nomad she is when she talks on the phone. I wish I could have heard the conversation. By the time I was drying the few dishes there were, mom wandered back with a grin. “Apparently your sister had the same idea and stayed with Flora for a few weeks.”

“Aww, I haven’t seen Miranda since she left for college.”

“She left yesterday morning. Flora said she would love to have you stay there for a while.”

“Do you think her house looks any different?”

“It’s cane friendly.”

“Funny.” I mused.

“It has been a number of years since you were up there last. I’m sure it looks different now. It’s been, what, eight years?”

“I guess it has been that long. I don’t think she’ll recognize me.”

“She might, I send her photos every year.”

“I’m excited about seeing her now. If not for her, for her stories.”

“You better get packing then.” Mom nudged me along.

I could not help but be overwhelmed. How long would I even stay for? It’s not like I have a job to answer to anymore. I had to dig for my suitcase in my closet. The last time I took a vacation was easily the honeymoon with my now ex-husband. I take small moments to regale how pleasant the beginning was. Beginnings are always pleasant and sweet. Until they are no more.

I am a single woman, thirty-two, with no kids and now no home. I had to move in with my mom. She allowed me back into her home without question. I am forever grateful for that.

Aunt Flora on the other hand. I know nothing about her, except she worked overnights until she had an injury of some kind. I think she slipped on a gravestone in the dark. It would be nice to quash old fears. I folded clothes neatly, adding amenities as I thought of them. Luckily, most of my belongings are still in boxes by my childhood bed.

It dawned on me that my room was left untouched. Miranda’s room had been transformed into a “hen den” as my mom called it. My room was left as it was when I left at eighteen. Not that it mattered, I was now filled with questions.

“I just noticed you never changed my room.”

“Something told me you would be back.” Mom shrugged, placing a hand on my shoulder.

“Really?”

“Ricky was a nice kid, but you are a free spirit. You need someone that can keep up with that. I think you would like a writer. They are introspective and intuitive.”

“What if I became a writer?” The moment struck me.

“What if you do?” Mom winked at me.

“I think I want to leave tonight.”

“I’ve never seen you so inspired. Let me make a few phone calls and see how early I can send you there.”

I buzzed with the sensation. I do not drink, but I was drunk with it. A revelation of creativity like lightning in pitch blackness. It is dazzling.

No time is wasted. I must revise my list of items for my trip. It is a small revision. My laptop bag and stationery are now a necessity. I’ve never written anything outside of an essay. This is a modern world where the internet exists. Videos and blogs should lead me in the right direction. I am one month divorced, my whole life turned upside down. Here I am, about to visit my Aunt’s house to seek out a niche.

“I hope you have fun with her.”

“I will text you when I can.”

“You are still my little girl.”

“Mom.” I groaned, that awkward feeling still there.

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