by Angela Yu
“You can’t change what has happened,” my mother said, with a soft voice that was soothing like a lullaby. Even with her words that were meant to comfort me, I shook, shivering in the warm room, and covering my face with my hands. I knew that nothing could calm me. Nothing but being able to see my father again. Smell the faint smell of cigarettes in his breath. See him smile one last time, just once, before he fades from my mind, and fades from reality, to become just a memory.
My mother let out a long sigh. Though my hands I could see her biting her lip and looking at me. Her gray eyes were wild, as if inside a storm was brewing. She sat there at the table eyeing me, as if she was trying to open my cover and read me like one of her romance novels. I turned away, not wanting to meet her cold unwelcoming eyes.
“Rena, you have to let go. Come here,” she said, extending her arms out and mustering a meek smile. I stayed still, but felt tears form in my eyes. I quickly blinked them away, and got up from the hard mahogany chair. More tears came, and I couldn’t do anything but run from the room.
“Wait!” my mother called, her voice trailing. I stopped and looked at the tile floor that felt like ice on my bare feet. I didn’t want to look back at her, to see the graying roots of her chestnut brown hair, the large bags underneath her eyes, and the wrinkles on her pale skin. I swallowed but did not turn around. Instead I kept on walking, leaving my mother at the kitchen table, watching me as I opened the front door and left the house.
A gust of wind rippled through my tangled caramel hair. I shut the door behind me. Across the street stood more houses, each one the same as the next. The gray roads were lined with a maze of of dark black tar lines that filled in the cracks. Shattered asphalt formed rocks which lay on the side of the road. The bright blue paint on most of the window shutters were chipped off after years of enduring the harsh winds, and revealed the gray wood underneath. Lawns were left unkempt, with unruly weeds making their way across the yellowing grass, and growing alongside many of the houses.
I made my way to the fence, and opened the rusty hatch, letting myself into the backyard. I stepped onto the grass, and looked towards the swing. I could see my father, smiling as he pushed me up, sending me flying towards the sky on a plastic red seat while gripping the metal chains. I wiggled my toes in the grass, reminded of when my dad would mow the lawn. I would run outside, and was met by the strong scent of fresh grass, and the deep humming of the lawn mower, rumbling as it pushed the grass to the side and left a lined trail behind it. The wind picked up speed, stirring the autumn leaves as well as the memories that lie here. The memories I could not let go of.