05-25-17 The Souvenir- A Short Story

The Souvenir

     Blue was my grandmother’s favorite color. It was the color of her nicest blouse, the one she only wore to church. The same one she was buried in. No one noticed the small pair of scissors in my hand as I timidly walked up to her casket. I glanced around and spied my mother in an intensely deep discussion with the minister about the propensity of youth to follow ideology instead of sound doctrine. My father sat in a large armchair with a full glass of water in his hand, the ice long melted, as he stared at a peculiarly drab painting of a rose on the wall across from him. My youngest sister had wedged herself beneath the coffee table and was fast asleep, her thumb in her mouth and her finger crooked over her nose. Three or four small clusters of women stood about the room, my grandmother’s friends from her sewing circle. She told me once she would outlive them all.

I glanced back at her coffin, a grayish box with dark blue satin fabric that offset her light blue blouse with small, white flowers. Her tiny lips were painted a soft pink, and she still wore her glasses, though little did she need them now. I stared at her chest, waiting to see it rise and fall, as if by some miracle the stale air in the room would somehow revive her, but she was still. I reached out and touched her hand, the same hand that had not a week ago pulled a wasp stinger from my arm. But what had once been soft and comforting, was now cold and stiff. I wish I hadn’t touched her.

The sounds in the room seemed distant as I reached over and pulled a slight bit of her blouse from her arm, and with an almost imperceptible snip a sliver fell into the casket. I picked up the scrap and rearranged her sleeve to make the hole of the fabric unnoticeable. Then surveying my own plain, gray dress, I bunched up the fabric around my elbow and cut off a small, triangular patch. I took the piece from my garment and gently tucked it in the small pocket on the front of her blouse, being careful not to leave anything in disarray.  I glanced up and my eyes met my father’s, and with a slight nod of his head, he turned his attention back to the rose. Heart pounding, I tucked the scissors and the small blue square with white flowers into my pocket. I looked at my grandmother one last time, reached for her hand, but thinking better of it, squeezed her arm, and said goodbye.

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