I shifted uncomfortably. "Remember when Mom
used to read to us from Psalms and Revelations before bed. If she
knew I was an atheist now, I bet she'd climb out of that coffin and
beat me to death with the New Testament."
"I think she would be glad to see you here."
"She drove me crazy, but I loved her," I continued.
"But I guess everybody's got to die sometime, right?"
"Marty," Clarissa got up and walked over to
the couch. It looked like she wanted to say something important. She
stood before me, her hands clutching and grabbing at each other like
quarreling spiders. Her pale fingers reminded me of Mom's. Her voice
was-like Mom's-harsh, gravel in a tumbler.
"I'm going to bed," she said, reluctantly,
and stood there a moment longer, watching me, her mouth opening and
I looked away and studied my big toe, which
poked through my black sock. She stared at her belly. "So, you're
leaving tomorrow?" she said.
She nodded. "I'll fix you some breakfast."
"You don't have to."
"I will," she said, and I knew there was no
arguing it. She walked over to the base of the stairs, but then turned
back and took a step towards me. "This summer, when the kids are out
of school, you could fly over here and stay for a little longer."
"This summer? I don't know. I'm pretty busy," I
"Well, maybe you can come down~if you're not
busy." She rubbed her stomach as though it were a magic lamp.
"Yeah, maybe," I said.
She bit her cheeks into a half-smile and dropped
her head. "Well, goodnight." The stairs sighed beneath her weight.