What I Might Tell my Children

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December 15, 2012 by The Citron Review

by Timothy L. Marsh
 

I foresee a distant Sunday afternoon, visitation day at the Sleepy Autumn Hospice Center, my mind goofy with meds and nostalgia, my body trespassed by every ailment an elderly body can accommodate. One of my daughters helping me suck down some pre-digested sluice through a pink bendy straw, complaining about a husband that travels too much, her son’s fourth grade teacher, here and there reminiscing about mom, who passed away the previous summer, not long before my progeny decided they were much too busy for me to die on my own.

Suddenly it will smack her, how incredibly close to dust my flimsy bones really are, and her dashboard warning light will flicker and she’ll ask about everything at once: how mom and I first met, how I knew she was the one, how we lasted all those years in loving harmony—all the life-stuff she never cared about until the screen of my ancient face flashed a pop-up advert for death.

Her eyes will contain an expectation of destined romance, a serendipitous fender-bender followed by an exchange of phone numbers and a sly move by the old man to work the old lady out to dinner. It’ll come as a swift deflating surprise when I confess that when I first met her mother she was PerkyBabe81 and I was TL_Crusher69, and how I stopped emailing her twice because I thought she was a ditzy prude, and how she quit emailing me for a month after I asked for pictures of her naked. And how, on our first date, she had her best friend follow us around town in case I tried to rape her in a parking garage, and how we never did tell her rigorously Catholic parents the way we actually met, the finer details of the irrelevant lie changing several times, everybody pretending not to notice until the day nobody cared anymore.

I’ll tell her how tired we were of aging alone, how settling gets a bad rap compared to chronic solitary reading in coffee shops and downloading porn on Christmas, how love didn’t factor into the equation until much later. The only important thing not being alone.

I’ll tell all of this to her, my startled daughter, and take her hand with some hazy doped-up smirk as she gathers the pieces of her broken illusions and puts them back together in a new, more accurate idea of her parents: just two awkward souls desperate for the church of a loving mate, who never quite figured out how to build one in the normal style and jerry-rigged their own with whatever they could find, and there upon that peculiar foundation enjoyed a happy life of mutual worship.

I might say that.

Timothy L. Marsh is a doctoral candidate in Creative Writing at Aberystwyth University, Wales. Recent honors include fellowships from the CAMAC Centre d’ Arts and the Can Serrat International Arts Center. His works have appeared in Ninth Letter, Barrelhouse, The Los Angeles Review, The Evansville Review and The New Quarterly, and are indexed at timothylmarsh.com.

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