fdelano Posted March 21, 2011 Share Posted March 21, 2011 (edited) The middle-aged man's head nodded. He sat in a chair close to the bed. The thin, gray-haired woman lazed in the lingering touch of morphine, grateful to have this time without pain. She managed to turn onto her left side and gazed sleepily at her son. "Tell me again about your new painting, how the river splits around the island. Talk about reflections from the ripples that change every second in the late sun. Tell how difficult it is to paint when you can barely breathe because of the beauty. I need one of your paintings." The man woke and sat up straight at his mother's words. 'You just told it, Mama. You see the river better than anyone could ever paint it. It was you who taught me to try to capture on canvas what I feel in my soul." In the bright light from the corridor, he could see in her eyes the pain returning rapidly, even though she tried to hide it. He leaned forward to take her hand while he pressed the call-button. 'It's time for your medicine, Mama. I know you would not ask, but you must have it." The doctors were no longer reluctant to dispense painkillers and had directed that she have them on demand. The night nurse entered and gave the shot quickly without talking or lingering. The dying woman lay rigidly straight on her back and closed her eyes tightly against her tears as the narcotic raced through her body to cover the agony. Feeling the approaching numbness, she hurried to finish her thoughts. "We shared so many mornings waiting for and then watching the sun come up. Drinking my strong coffee at the fireplace on cold days, those were the best. I can remember parts of different sunrises, but it is not the same as watching it happen. Oh, I wish we could have one more together." He sat beside the bed, trying to memorize her face, basking in his mother's words and his own memories of their times together. She had taught him not to waste time in sorrow and regret, and he thought hard about how he now needed to put that lesson into practice. From her steadied breathing, he knew the pain had subsided and she would soon sleep. He stood and moved to the single small window. "Mama, I know you can't see the window, but it's almost morning. There is only a hint of color in the sky, but I can make out the darker silhouettes of trees on the mountains. Daybreak will come quickly in this clear sky. I see a creeping glow of orange, no, more of a peach, really, thinning into pale yellow and fading into the deep blue of the still dark dome of sky. A silvery sheen already reflects from that strip of river where it doubles back before hiding under the foothills. "There it is, a flash of aquamarine from the top rim of the sun just as it clears the ridge, a color never seen at any other time, one that no artist can duplicate. You and I have been lucky enough to see it a few times." He turned from the window to see his mother nodding in agreement, her eyes closed, but the images reflected in her smile. She had always stayed at the windows long after sunup, savoring the color changes in the movement of light. "Don't stop telling. I want to see all of it." "Yes, Mama. The birth of the sun's light is bulging over the ridge, painting the western slopes with lavender and reflecting flashes from the windows of those high cabins. The full fury is up now, pushing and heating with each second. My eyes are tearing up and blurring the brightness. Everything is lighting up, changing color and shape, creating a new world." He stared at his reflection in the dark windowpane for several minutes before turning to look at his mother. He went back to his chair, and without any thought, sat near her still body for more than an hour, a slow numbness growing in his chest. Then he rose, put on his overcoat and walked out into the cold, foggy night. fdharden - 1998 Edited March 21, 2011 by fdelano Quote Link to comment Share on other sites More sharing options...
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