Relief

Leave a comment

June 22, 2017 by The Citron Review

by Jiaying Lim

 

I would imagine my parents dead, or dying, from a head-on collision with a car with angry stoplights, mangling their bodies like crushing paper. Or they would spin out of control after hitting the road, skidding, a glowing, flaring ring where the tires previously burned. Blood would spurt out, crust, then congeal, a burgundy shade of finality.

I sat up on the couch. I stood up. I walked to the door. I turned around and walked back to the sofa.

(Would I be a worrier all my life?)

The policeman would walk up my doorstep, brushing aside the drooping vines over our door number, checking again against his ringed notebook for the correct address. His features would be grim, held tightly in place. He’d ring, and my dog would instantly start yipping. He would tell me the news, and my smile would falter with uncertainty, and then my features would rearrange themselves into disbelief and then fear, and perhaps I would faint. Likely I would faint.

I picked up the phone. I dialed: 9-6-4-2-. I stopped. I put the receiver down. I sat down.

Would I have to give a speech at the funeral? I was the oldest of us two. I was ten, which was pretty old compared to when I was seven but probably a little young generally. But still the oldest. Always the oldest. I would stand in the blinding sunlight, on a stool someone had procured, so that I could see over the podium. Or perhaps it would pour, like a tired cliché. I would astound, I think. I would create a speech of staggering eloquence and rich allusions to the poetry and literature my father liked and the ties to traditional culture my mother’s every action was so steeped in. Maybe I would mention the vacation we took last May. I would feel like crying the whole time, but I would hold it in because I knew I had to. My aunt would dab away tears, smudging away her lurid makeup. My little sister would sob, unable to do anything else. I would continue speaking, and I would be brave.

I picked up the phone. I dialed, my fingers on autopilot: 9-6-4-2-2-2-6-0.

(Would I remember this phone number all my life?)

“Hello!” I said, speaking through a sudden thick clot of tears, when they cheerily answered. “What time are you coming back later?”

“Hello, your papa and mama are driving back now; think we’ll be back by 9 p.m.” My father always sounded delighted when I called. He always answered.

(Would someone always answer?)

I lay on the adult blanket on their bed, careful not to move too much or mess it up. I spread my arms and legs across, rubbing against the soft down. Soon I would get a blanket like this, and it would be one of the best parts of being an adult. I propped my chin on the pillow and stared at the clock. The pair of stacked rectangles that formed the eight. The serpentine bends in a three-dimensional road formed the five. The zero was less an oval than a rectangle.

Where was I? Oh, the brilliant eulogy. I’d be marked after that, forever hollow at some parts, bruised at some, hardened at others. Once a fortnight or so, I would collapse dramatically in the weight of my grief.

8:55 p.m. Five minutes more. Five more minutes. They must be near the huge junction facing the fire station now.  

I closed my eyes. I sat up. I went to the bathroom, stared at myself in the mirror. I fiddled with my mother’s foundation, the spare, almost-invisible sheen she’d wear. I wondered why she didn’t  wear more.

8:59 p.m. I held my breath, watching. The figures on the clock were gray slate. The screen was not illuminated.

(If the clock stopped working, if time skidded to an abrupt halt, would I even know?)

I do not think I breathed between 9:00 p.m. and 9:05 p.m., when I heard my dog’s excited, futile scratching under the door, the click of the keys in the lock, the flicking of the light switch, the sighing, muffled murmurs of speech, the footsteps up the stairs, heavy and measured, followed by a pair of lighter ones.

I leaped off the blanket and onto the couch and assumed my usual pose and opened the nearest book, but all I saw was sweet relief flooding, breaking past the banks, flowing into the empty boulevards of my heart.

 

Jiaying Lim is currently based in Philadelphia, and was born and raised in Singapore. Her creative nonfiction has also been published in River Teeth, Full Grown People, Eunoia Review, and Quarterly Literary Review Singapore.

Advertisements

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

🍋10th Anniversary

Fall 2019 IssueSeptember 23rd, 2019
89 days to go.

🍋 Instagram

From our summer issue, "How Much Snow" by Erik Moellering. Erik Moellering teaches English at A-B Tech Community College in Asheville, NC, where he also performs in a variety of theatrical productions. https://citronreview.com/2019/06/21/how-much-snow/ #TheCitronReview #SummerIssue #CitronSix #Summer2019 #poetry #cheersto10years
The Summer 2019 Issue of the The Citron Review is brimming with amazing contributors. We want to thank them and hope you'll thank them too! Erik Moellering, Andrea Jurjević, David Galloway, Jennifer Metsker, Kendall Babl, Rogan Kelly, B.J. Best, Melanie McGee Bianchi, Emanuele Pettener, Thomas De Angelis, A. Grifa Ismaili, Julie Watson, Jill Chmelko, Kelle Schillaci Clarke, Phyllis Reilly, Elyse Giaimo, Anita Goveas, Mary Grimm, Carla Scarano D’Antonio, Megan Anning. #amreading #anonlinejournalofbriefliterature
Catch up with our managing editor @ericsteineger in the latest issue of Tinderbox Poetry Journal. #saturdayread #amreading #TheCitronreview #tinderboxpoetryjournal https://tinderboxpoetry.com/catching-up-with-tinderbox
In Citron’s 10th summer issue on this longest day in the sun we bring you stories of vulnerability and meaning. We also offer something new. As part of our 10th anniversary we have created Zest, a place for our editors to share essays, reviews, and other posts in between our four annual issues. Zest’s first feature is a review written by Managing Editor and Senior Poetry Editor @ericsteineger. You can find his review of @jerzypoet's debut chapbook, Demolition in the Tropics as the last item in our summer issue and on Zest’s page. It’s been an amazing ten years of stories. In September we will publish the fall issue as well as a look back at 10 years of The Citron Review. To our readers and contributors, thank you for being a part of our story. #CitronSix #CitronStories #Summer2019 #SummerIssue #TheCitronReview #cheersto10years #amreading #summersolstice #summerreading
"Immaculate" by Anne-Marie Hoeve takes us into the secret life of spoons in this carefully arranged micro fiction. https://citronreview.com/2019/03/20/immaculate/ #amreading #thecitronreview #spring2019
Christopher Rabley's "I Can See Her" is his second publication in The Citron Review and we join him in Taipei City for a most trying time. His first nonfiction story is from 2017, "Speak to Me". Please read them together, if you wish. https://citronreview.com/2019/03/20/i-can-see-her/ https://citronreview.com/2017/12/21/speak-to-me/ #amreading #thecitronreview #spring2019

Enter your email address to follow us and receive notifications of new issues by email.

%d bloggers like this: