By Katy Goforth-
I want to hear the music building to a crescendo in the theme song of Young and the Restless. My stubby eight-year-old legs propel me towards the Naugahyde sofa. Maw’s soft arms specked with bits of dirt from her garden are waiting on my soft landing. Cold breakfast biscuits arranged on the coffee table. The smooth “good brand” peanut butter oozing out the sides. Just like I ordered.
My arrival greeted by Maw’s grin pushing her glasses up against her eyebrows—pure joy. She yells out, “Come on, Lou baby. Our stories are coming on.” I smell the breakfast sausage on her hands clinging to them like a soothing salve.
It’s 12:00 p.m., and the Burton Dixie Mill whistle blows. Lunchtime. Paw has a short commute before joining us. These are his stories too. The violin breaks through the tinny television speaker signaling we are close to watching the sixty minutes of drama unfold.
A whoosh of sticky air takes over the room. Paw’s home. I didn’t know then how tired 55 can be, but I understand it now. He wipes his feet on the bath towel placed by the door. A stand in for a regular floor mat. As he bends to take his dirty shoes off, bits of lint cling to his silver curls. He runs his hands over the curls as Maw yells out, “Over the bath towel!”
I snuggle in tighter to her soft nook trying to soak her in. Save her for later even though I don’t understand later just yet.
But now, decades have passed, and I understand saving her for later. I understand the hurt from the realization that the soft nook fades. The breakfast sausage smell is no longer. And the Burton Dixie Mill whistle has fallen silent.
But I search YouTube for the Young and the Restless theme song. The tinkling of the piano keys begins, and my body softens against my chair searching for my Maw’s comfort. My tears flow down my cheeks and puddle in my collarbones. Full sobs.
Tomorrow I will go see her and search the rows of gravestones until I find my own last name staring back at me. A last name I hold so closely that I told my partner I refuse to give it up. The name connects me to her. Tethers me to my people. The people I come from. The people who sound like me. The people who smell like me. The people who still love me even when not in this world.
Katy is a writer and editor for a national engineering and surveying organization and a fiction editor for Identity Theory. Her work has been published in The Dead Mule School, Montana Mouthful, and Coalesce Community. She has work forthcoming in Reckon Review, Flash Fiction Magazine, and Gastropoda. When she’s not writing, she’s traveling the country following her favorite musicians and collecting oddities for her menagerie. She was born and raised in South Carolina and lives in Anderson with her spouse and two dogs, Finn and Betty Anne. You can find her on Twitter at @MarchingFourth and katygoforth.com.