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Nov 2012
My mother is getting ready for work. And I am 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 years or so in this house. The house that I remember then use to shake violently from the train a block away and was so glass-fragile and so cold-damp that its walls warped and swelled; making it look like someone had once blown up a large balloon inside of it and the walls curved around it. Even after that balloon popped the walls never managed to regain their original shape. My mother who never complained about the state of our home and in fact rather fancied it would tell me “Isn’t it cozy living in a snow-globe shaped house, and when it shakes we can pretend we’re snowmen in a glass ball.” She would always say things like that. I would always listen; I would always sit quietly with my legs tucked under my *** and watch my mother get ready for work. She would go through 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 system of movements that at this age seemed to me more like dancing. I would watch as her dance started in her hands. Her fingers thumbing over the light pale and pink lip paints she saved for weekday afternoons and for Sunday mornings. She instead reached for the bright Chinese red stick she painted onto her perfectly pursed lips. She then reached for her black dress, pressing down the wrinkles smooth as the backs of thumb-tacks, smoothing the fabric over her hips, her thighs, her legs. Next she would sashay over to her vanity, pick up a small container and spread over her eyelids a bright but dusty blue shadow. I love this next part. When she would gently sweep me up and sets me on her bed as she knelt down and told 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”. I always thought she looked like she was in the caught in the middle of a snow-globe. Her next step was then slipping her dainty and fragile size 7 feet into heels that I knew would look invisible in the dark night outside our front door, she would look like she was almost floating. I often thought those would hurt her feet as she walked that long stretch of street outside our house.  Her arms then would sway and flick her hands outward, grasping with all her fingers a purple and gold glass bottle of perfume on her dresser. Back then it looked to me like a curious crystal globe of sweet-smelling water that turned sparkly when she shook it. This is my mother’s last step, she presses down the sponge-like pump. I really love this part. 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 watch them as they swirl up the golden bottle-the rounded glass holding them in, controlling them, allowing them to eddy and ebb around themselves, to tango around each other within the safety of its bottle. They are dancing, writhing around in their own world, free from the terrors of the outside air, these atoms 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. Then they 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 glass world, 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 and live forever as air bubbles safe and few, to not swim up 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 off the couch. I want her to stay too. And as she grabs her bag and slams the front door it shakes our house like glass around me. I remember a younger me, left there feeling liquid and weak in a snow-globe house now void of air.
edited a previous work.
Hayley Neininger
Written by
Hayley Neininger
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