Who knows what sets the neurons to chatter, these moments to freeze, then propel, back in time.
I run my fingers lightly down the spine of memories, feeling the sloughing of breath, the tenseness and drawing away of skin, tracing scars . . . where even the bitter is sweetened by passing years.
Long before the sheer joy of existing was tainted by expectation, when I still had my milk teeth, I remember wood smoke on the grace notes of moonrise.
Or the drops of rain on desert dust, lying in wait alongside lonesome highways, the crying tires on their way west, then east again.
In passing storefronts, old posters shopworn and tattered, the smell of waxed wood counters, pickled with the sweat of many fingers, I can feel my soul lift, then float on the stale breeze, right past the creaking screen, and down into the dirt, where the highway beckons, fighting crows in their cadence for an early morning trek to the house by the lake.
I look down once again into the clear depths of water, Queen Anne’s Lace spilling over the rockery, and hear ghost sounds of stirrings in the cottage behind me. Climbing the hill past the old cat’s grave, and on to the hayfields beyond, motes rise into the sun, opening curtains to childhood.
I am drawn to meadows filled with sunlight, and the lazy dance of dragonflies skimming the pond surface, placid in its dark mystery. My head lay against the horse’s belly, tracing patterns of mares tails in the sky with daisies in my hand, the sorrel my boon companion in a field of innocence.
And there, in the dirt, the dust, the blackened roads, in fields of memories far greater than the present moment, I give in, just one more time, to the ghost of long ago dawns, and leave behind the mask I wear in my grey hairs to dance to the sweetest tunes, losing myself alongside the road once again.
Sharon Frame Gay was born on the South Side of Chicago, but has lived all over the country, playing by the side of the road. Her work can be found in Gravel Magazine, Biostories, Fiction on the Web, several anthologies and many others. She is a Pushcart Prize nominee.