Life had once been defined by linears and absolutes. The most basic of these absolute lessons is one that many kids learn at a young age. You’re born, you live, you die. What many people fail to explain is that this chain of events repeats itself over and over throughout your life and sometimes not even in the right order.
If she tried hard enough Jenny could probably recall at least a dozen moments when she felt as though she had become a new person.
Born again would be the expression but she hated that. Made her sound like some religious nut that’d just as quickly also reclaim her virginity. That ship had sailed long ago. Shaking her head she rubbed her eyes and tried to push these thoughts out.
They weren’t helping. The hardest of the repetitive absolutes was here again: death. It didn’t matter the type of death, this absolute was always hard.
“Jenny,” her father’s voice pulled her hard and fast out of the spiral she had been working her way into.
She sat straight in her chair, hurriedly smoothing her hair down and wiping her eyes, “I’m here dad.”
“Did you stay here again?” his mouth set into a firm line, “You need to get some sleep hun.”
“Bah,” her hand shook as she tried to wave away his worry, “I’m good. I have three kids all close in age dad, I can handle a little sleep loss.”
He caught her hand as it came down. His thumb rubbed across her palm. The tremors started to subside. She stared at their hands for a moment, recalling all the times he had held her like that. All the nightmares he had chased away with magic coins or confetti disguised as ‘fairy dust’ to keep the monsters at bay.
“Remember the trip we took to Nice, France when you were a kid?” her father pressed
down on her palm and wiggled their hands playfully, insisting
she look up.
It took a moment but finally she did. Her eyes scanned his face. He was a handsome man still, with a full head of salt and pepper brown hair, bright green eyes, and what seemed like thousands of laugh lines in all the right spots. His nose was the only thing about him that appeared at all rigid and serious. The corners of his mouth were pulled up in a wide smile now, showing off an infectious grin.
“Yeah I do,” Jenny smiled back as she replied.
“Can you still picture the bay there? When the boat pulled into the harbor you gasped and said ‘Daddy look! It’s just like a painting’. You were so happy, so mesmerized by all the colors and the people,” although obviously tired, her father’s voice never wavered.
Jenny sighed softly, “They were so beautiful though. All those blues, yellows, and oranges. I didn’t know people painted their houses so brightly. Even the old water pumps had been painted bright blue. It was like they were so happy to live there they wanted their city to shout it out all the way to the water.”
They both laughed at her description. Even at fifty-six Jenny still slipped into her six year old self often around her father. “You took me a lot of places dad. I remember them all,” she lowered her own dark green eyes to the bed again as she spoke.
“Hey now,” his hands pulled her closer suddenly.
He wrapped his arms tightly across her back and chuckled, “You’re so much like that beautiful city we saw Jenny. Your colors are hard to miss. Sometimes I like to think that I gave you those, all those colors.”
There was a warm salty taste in Jenny’s mouth and as she listened to her father’s soft heartbeat next to her ear, she realized she was crying. She didn’t know what she was going to do without him. How would the memories all stay in place without her rock to tie them to?
Taking a big breath in she allowed herself to pull back from her father’s embrace. “You did Daddy. All my colors, all my quirks, all my…me,” she smiled wide through the tears.
It was her turn to take his hand. She sat down again, leaned forward and placed her head on his shoulder. As she listened to his breaths become shallow she closed her eyes and waited…waited for that hard absolute to come calling again. To come and take her rock away.