Parenting & Other Life Stories

Photo Prompt 42: Moving Parts Slowly Grinding to a Close

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Photography by Shari Marshall ©

Moving Parts Slowly Grinding to a Close

I can see her there, she was standing with a slight wobble. Her face pasted with a deliberate grin knowing she was currently the nucleus, the linchpin that the next few moments, possible longer, hinged on. Her slender 5’3 form vibrated with an energy that fed off any notice taken of her. She held the corners of her mouth in a turned up fashion as she lifted the brown glass bottle to her lips for a long deep drink, a swig that lingered long enough that anyone watching closely could see the deep reflective thought moving behind her green flecked eyes.

Having reached a firm resolve within the few seconds she had withdrew behind her bottle she was ready to spur her body forward. As she lowered the bottle it became clear that the process of reaching a decision had been completed because not only was the bottle lowered, but it was tossed blindly to the side in a shower of foam and golden droplets. The bottle itself appeared to be shocked by the action as it flew free of the Styrofoam cylinder that housed it and landed with a muffled bang that was quickly absorbed by a rolling action across the deck. In a simultaneous movement that betrayed her decision she kicked her feet free of her sandals and bolted down the three stairs to the grassy yard in a manner that unintentionally revealed both her age and her mild loss of control over her mental and physical power. However, as her dainty feet hit the soft narrow spikes she propelled herself forward to sounds of cheers and laughter.

Her legs pumped as fast as her skewed coordination would allow. She reached out with her right arm, fingers outstretched trying to grasp the limber limbs fleeing from her grasp. Although her first gush of energy was admirable the twenty-two years difference in age quickly presented itself and the gap between them grew into a canyon. Her body unable to maintain that burst of speed appeared like a machine that’s moving parts were slowly grinding to a close.

The form fleeing from her stopped and turned back laughing in delight, but she as looked up she caught sight of the aversion set in the woman’s features because it was all too visible before she guarded it with a façade of giggles. She turned her back and sashayed toward the trailer while attempting to absolve herself from an aborted challenge.

This is my adult self-looking back at a memory, but if I was to add my younger self into that memory as the viewer it wouldn’t look the same. For example, that same woman who yearned for unceasing attention would appear as a mother playing with her child. The flaws of character that my mature eyes see were nothing more than a mode of behaviour and thought that was particular to her. They were not blemishes at all. For a long time I saw only what I was expected to see, the same thing that those around us saw: a fun, wild, and carefree woman who lived to enjoy life. However, the outward appearance that she maintained to conceal a less credible reality started to crumble drink by drink and choice by choice.

That was the mother I used to know, but the woman she later became I never knew. The abyss grew between us and now the only faculty by which my mind remembers her is the reflection of her physical self that is simulated in me. Round rosy cheeks with a slender nose set in between does nothing to draw attention from the deceptive green eyes that lock onto a subject with suspicion. Slight lines in the skin at the corners of the eyes give them a distinction especially when highlighted by a smile and it casts a twinkle into the emerald depths regardless of how far the smile truly reaches. A medium skin tone casts a warm glow to a complexion flecked with small patches of light brown colour that became more prominent in the sun. Slight furrows run in graceful arcs from the corner of each nostril down to the corners of the mouth, evidence of a grimace or a smile. Even the reddish-brown hair colour does nothing to draw contrast between myself and her at my age.

By Shari Marshall – edited in 2020 but written in 2016 as part of NaNoWriMo

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