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Jan 2012
My mother is getting ready for work. And I a child of about 9 years old sitting on her bedroom floor watching her get dressed the same as I would for the next 9 or so years in this house. This house, I remember, that shook violently from the train a block away and was so fragile and damp that its walls warped and swelled making the house look like someone had once blown up a large balloon inside and the walls still held its shape. My mother who never complained about the state of our house ans instead would tell me, “Isn’t it cozy living in a snow-globe house?” So on the damp floor I would sit and I would watch my mother go through the motions, the same motions she went through every night and every night in the same order, she did this so often and religiously she had it down to an art, a methodical art that at this age seemed to me more like dancing. She started her dance by thumbing over the light pale and pink lip paint she saved for weekday afternoons and Sunday mornings , reaching instead for the bright Chinese red stick she painted onto her perfectly pursed lips, next pressing down wrinkles smooth as the backs of thumb-tacks -on her black tight dress, pressing over her hips, her thighs. She next sashays over to her vanity and picks up a small black container to paint over her eyelids a bright but dusty blue shadow, then gently sweeps me up and sets me on her bed as she kneels down and tells me to sprinkle her face with a shimmery clear powder, giving her the look she always said made her stand out, made her look “unique”. Her next step was then slipping her dainty and fragile size 7 feet into heels that I knew would be both black and invisible in the dark night outside our front door. That I often thought would hurt her feet as she walked the long stretch of street outside our house.  Her then, grasping with both hands a purple and gold glass bottle of perfume on her dresser, which then to me looked like a curious crystal globe of sweet-smelling water, that sparkled like a snow-globe when she shook it. This is my mother’s last step, she presses down the sponge-like pump. The only magical part of my mother’s evening- the part I always thought would make her realize she should stay. As she presses down on the pump I see the shiny and clear purple hued liquid release and bubble out into tiny specks of oxygen atoms, I see watch them as they swirl up the golden bottle-the snow-globe holding them in, controlling them, allowing them to eddy and ebb around themselves, to tango around each other within the safety of its glass. They are dancing, writhing around in their own world, free from the terrors of the outside air, these atoms they embrace the chaos and they wallow in the pressure that perpetuates them in an endless looping of rhythmic motion. They enjoy it. They bask in the comfort of the fluid that holds them tight together safe in their glass house, keeping them untouched. I, sitting there eye level to this bottle watching ever so closely as the air bubbles swim closer and closer to the surface. Until they slowly start to realize that they are being expelled from their bottle. They then stop dancing and move franticly in a tornado-like motion, they scream and they fight their way back down towards the others like them, wishing to not be pushed up and out into the bigger pool of air they know will surely render them invisible. They wish so strongly to be kept inside their bottle, to always be safe and visible in the enwombing liquid that circles around them in their bottle, that reassures them of their existence as a single being and not as a part of a whole, to be separate from the mass of air that awaits them, the air that only yearns to add to its girth, by swallowing the tiny air-bubbles. I want them to stay. Stay in their snow-globe to live forever as air bubbles safe and few, to not swim to the world that will gulp them down whole. I know they are dainty and fragile and I want to keep them safe. I want to always see them dancing separate and unique and never leaving, yet they do. I want them to stay, yet they do not. All in an instant, faster than the blink of an eye, the once dancing bubbles are gone and are now sprinkled sweet across my mother’s neck. The only evidence of their existence- a lingering scent flowing out of my mother’s bedroom as she grabs her purse on the couch. I want her to stay. And as she grabs her purse and slams the front door it shakes our house like glass around me. Me, left here feeling liquid and weak in a snow-globe house now void of air.
Just something I'm working on.
Hayley Neininger
Written by
Hayley Neininger
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