Between The Lines | Denise Schiavone

The Harley sits in the yard.  At the kitchen window, Edith flicks a bit of ash into the drain and stares out at its sleek red thighs, chiseled black torso, gleaming silver legs.

“Whose is that?” She releases a puff of smoke.

“Mine.” I take a swig of OJ from the carton and watch the white plume swirl around her head. Her chin nudges toward the dirty windowpane. “It’s pretty.” Across the room, I wait. Her eyes narrow to slits in the fog of carcinogens. “Take me for a ride some time?” I shrug. “Sure.”

She shuffles off to find the TV remote.

Morning dawns bleak and gray, a mixture of steam off asphalt and smog from the carpet factory. Edith drifts from her bedroom, Ben-gay fumes trailing in her wake, housecoat askew around her calves, gray hair coiled in a mass of pink curlers. Images of aging and infancy intertwined in an awkward embrace.  “I’m ready,” Edith says.  A few soggy Cocoa Puffs bob in the bowl before me. “Now?” “Yes.” She nods. “Now.”

She tucks the hem of her housecoat between her legs. Baby-shit green fabric shrouds the Harley’s seat. I rev once, twice, wait for her grip. “Hang on,” I warn. Tires spin off. At my back, her sagging chest tenses and flexes. In the mirror, curlers twist and bump. A tangle of gray breaks from its moorings. And within the howl of wind and engine, I hear my mother laugh, as we fly through the morning heat.

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