by Hannah Guthrie
Runestone, volume 10
Mamaw, the fan has been blowing for days; you’d say some money was probably wasted
along with it. Years of birthday cards you’ve given me fell off the shelf with the wind, signed
with a heart; my hair dances like yours in the artificial breeze. That fan was one
of the many things I took from your house when you died, memories of silver blades slicing air
as a peaceful afternoon nap overtook us both. Papaw didn’t care, he just wanted it gone, so I
became a thief, taking everything of you I could. I sleep on your mattress, swearing I can smell
your Japanese Cherry Blossoms if I close my eyes and focus long enough. I took your China set; I
made my boyfriend some of your recipes, imagining I am in the kitchen with you again,
washing fruits, even the blueberries I never learned to love, scooping up one too many samples
of whipped cream to taste. His hair as curly and unruly as yours, his laugh just as contagious.
The only boyfriend you never met became the one I knew you’d like the most; he takes care
of me, as you often did, bringing me dinner when I’ve sat at my desk too long, refusing to leave.
I dreamed of you at my wedding one day, walking me down the aisle or throwing rose petals;
loving the groom a little more than I ever would because there was always room in your heart
to love someone new. I took your class ring, smoky metal and obsidian gems that glisten in the
sunlight that would burn me but tan you, and suddenly I remember our pool days
when even as a child, I knew to reapply my sunscreen. Your ring is hooked to the necklace you
gave me the day before you died. It was my birthday, and we all sat in the floor at your house.
The necklace was the moon; the phase it was in on the day I was born. You made me my
favorite cake. I took your cat, too; she sings to me, too, drawing figure-eights with careful
footsteps, taking me back to days when we’d dance in your living room. Your living room, the
place that mourns in the same way I do. Neither of us could host another birthday party,
Christmas morning, or New Year’s Eve. We both sit empty now, hot and stagnant and content;
now, even a cool breeze would desecrate the memory of you. I took your favorite sweater, still
sweet with lavender laundry soap and the scent of your home that stains my childhood. I wrap
myself in the fabric of your ghost; I’ve taken it all, but it isn’t you.
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HANNAH GUTHRIE [she/they] is a senior at Marshall University. She is majoring in English with a minor in Classical Studies. Her work has been recognized at the university level and nominated for the Wallace E. Knight Excellence in Writing Award. With her degree, she plans to travel abroad and teach English as a foreign language but wants to return to her hometown of Huntington, WV, to continue her education and writing career. She enjoys contemporary literature and her cats, Grimm and Boo.