she wants us to write about candy and each time i settle enough to try, it feels like i’m drowning in the sea of swirly twirly gumdrops. but then, just this morning on my way to the hot shower i hope will clear my mind & body of everything that isn’t mine while retaining only what is, i slip my cool bare feet into my old white slippers and the physical sensation it creates is strong enough to take me all the way back..
..it is christmas morning, 1989. i wake beneath a threadbare comforter in a hand-me-down bed that’s pushed and leaning against a thin parkay wall. i’m on the second floor of a small, cold house and the smell of weak coffee and cheap tinned cinnamon rolls is all around me. laying perfectly still, with my mind’s eye i can see the fresh douglas fir waiting below; it’s portly and laden with too much tinsel and three generations of homemade christmas ornaments. there are four stockings hanging, heavy and frayed from the mantel of a dormant fireplace. mine is the one with the ‘noel’ written across the top, where in a different house a name or an initial might be. a gigantic peppermint stick is sticking out of the top of each red and white sock and in mine, buried somewhere beneath the lavishly minted stick and high above the old navel orange, there is a hollowed paper box made to look like a book, only inside instead of beautiful pictures and unconsidered thoughts, it’s filled with ten rolls of candied lifesavers: cherry, butterscotch, pep-o-mint. it all comes flooding back to me then: my high perch, the worn wood of the slippery step, my tattered billowing nightgown, the clammy-cool sensation of my bare slippered feet. i listen and wait as whispers fade to laughter below.
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