Yesterdays, an excerpt by Tiffany Q.
One door was closing and another one was opening. I didn’t know how long we’d keep the house, but I did think it would be long after they’d left this ole’ world behind.
I sit on the pink counter resting my bare thirty-five year old feet and bottom against the coolness of it, while hugging my legs against my chest. I tilt my head as my eyes roam the bathroom. My grandparents brought this house in the seventies. I look not wanting to let go of the memories that made us… my family… who we are today.
I try to make sense of it all; the pink tiles traced in white grout, in some places brown show the years of teenage kids pounding against its foundation; a crystal powder dish that takes up residence on the left side of the wash bowl catching sunbeams shining in from the window. Don’t touch! Towels lay in place from the towel rack, a blue glass dish bubbling over with Efferdent solution and pink-gummed dentures that claim a space around the brim of the washbowl. Red and white, blue and white, yellow, all worn toothbrushes show signs of an owner fill the holes of the toothbrush holder affixed to the wall under the medicine cabinet mirror. For the toilet… an ornament – a toilet bracket, a telltale sign of age. On the far wall is a small window giving its viewers a clear view of the side of the house. Looking down beside me on floor is a straw woven laundry basket and there, a pink tub shines like glazed over bubblicious.
I jump down from the counter and walk to the window. I move the latches… one to the left, the other to the right… and pry the window open. I take in the fresh air while supporting my chin with my hands and resting my elbows on the windows ledge as I gaze out into the day. My eyes fixed on the side of the house where my grandma would sit butchering fish. The sharp blade would come down striking without mercy as their slippery slimy mouths gasp for air. The blade rips off the tail rushing against the cutting board, landing it into the trash. Again and again the blade would skit across the board in a whisper against the worn cutting board ripping off the head and a gory mix of guts would hang from where the head once was attached, the oozing of a colorful mixture of reds, greens, whites and browns. Switching tools and holding a more sleek style blade, the hands of a southern born licorice complexion bow-legged grandmother, sliced the belly straight down the middle relieving the catch of its prized possession.
Repeating this surgical like procedure on my grandfather’s catch at least once a month was the norm. The kids in the house had the pleasure of taking the butchered corpse and baptizing it into the waters of the kitchen sink. On some occasions we would scale the fish sending the scales dancing into the air in preparation for the ultimate sacrifice. My grandma’s skin burned against the sun rays of the hot afternoon hours as she slaughtered the catch one by one.
I smile thinking about when the chore was done, how my grandma would gather the heads and guts of the catch and place them around the rose bushes and the other flowers my granddaddy had grown in the yard. He was an avid gardener who could grow anything, sad that as a child I didn’t appreciate this gift until now. I still don’t know what fish heads and guts have to do with the growing of his gardens, but I do know that just like clockwork, year after year the flowers return like long ago friends to tell about how well life is treating them. The tulips and perennials dancing in the spring showing off their fancy dresses, swaying to the earthly beat, intoxicating fragrances filling the air, as my granddad pours before them a limitless water supply to quench their thirst. I still hear him calling my name in the spring when flowers begin to bloom ten years ago today and so far from home.