Our lives were simple.
They weren’t happy. They weren’t sad.
They were… there.
I introduce myself to mom again today.
Her eyes are dull.
She’s quiet. Doesn’t say much. Doesn’t say anything, really. I watch her as she shifts around in her rocking chair with the shawl blanket drawn over her shoulder. Her curly gray hair is pulled into a neat, tight pony tail. The strands spill out over her shoulders like a stormy waterfall. She stares off into the distance, positioned in front of the open window that overlooks a brick wall.
“Hi, mom,” I say. She turns to face me.
“Sorry,” she says. “Who are you?” and her words are forced, garbled, hoarse.
Lydia appears then. She readjusts mom’s blankets and pats my shoulder. “Visiting hours are almost over,” she tells me. I nod and grab my backpack.
The Beatles plays on the radio today. It’s a crappy radio too; only plays oldie music. No Kiss FM for me. Aunt Sylvie calls me in the car, her ringtone ringing ever so cheerily. I put her on speaker mode and rest the phone on the dashboard.
“How is she?”
“Good,” I reply, tapping my fingers on the wheel. “You?”
“Oh, I’m fine, sweetheart. Santa Barbara is beautiful this time of year. The convention is going well. I had my first book signing today. Tons of people came!”
“Isn’t it? My hand hurts like the devil, but it was worth it. All the people here are so amazing. You should see it! I’m picking up tons of souvenirs for you. I’m losing all my money on dreamcatchers and potions that are supposed to cleanse your aura. All different flavors and scents, of course. It would be boring if all of the potions were vanilla flavored.”
“I like vanilla.”
“You do? Good. I got four bottles of vanilla.”
I smile to myself. Aunt Sylvie - mom’s younger sister and a modern day ‘hippie.’ Some call her a psychic. I suppose she is. Her book, which became a New York Times bestseller, is about the human aura, chi, the art of good and bad luck, and the art of telling the future and reading fortune via palms, tea leaves, and cards. Her business - just called ‘Sylvia’ - sells potions, soap, bath salts, herbs, recipes, lotion, dream catchers, and any other ‘mystical’ remedy or object you’ll might want in life. She’s well known for Sylvia and goes to all sorts of conventions and conferences.
She travels a lot.
“And how are you, Ro? I’ve just been talking about myself the whole time, and I -”
“I’m good, Sylvie. Thanks for asking.”
“Yeah? How’s your summer?”
“Are you hanging out with your friends, Rowan? Uh… what’s her name….”
“Ellie is coming over tonight.”
“Ellie! That’s right. How’s the dog?”
Sylvie pauses. I breathe in the stale air of the old ford truck, the one with the dirt-streaked gray paint job and listen to George Harrison sing.
“How’s Liv?” and I catch myself from telling her that she already asked that.
Sylvia and Olivia.
I listen to George sing.
“It’s just a cold, Sylvie. She’s fine.”
“That’s not what I meant, Rowan.”
I listen to them sing.
“I have to go, Sylvie. I’ll talk to you later.”
I look at you all see the love there that’s sleeping
While my guitar