To Understand My Mom

little word studio

That morning I ordered waffles, which I almost never do. Funny I can recall the waffles with such clarity (syrup-soaked, dense) and next the walk home along a Chicago street bordered by pudgy brownstones. It was a sunlit April day, the bitterness of Midwest winter finally releasing its grasp. My phone rang — “book the next flight, come home” — and what happened after I only know as disconnected flashes in my mind.

A plane’s wing tip sears through ink-black sky; a flight attendant asks, “Are you OK?” The question, unanswered, lingers in stale cabin air longer than it should. A car ride to O’Hare, there wasn’t enough gas. A gas station, a voicemail.

“Melis, it’s Mom. I found the right paint for your bedroom wall. Either the butter yellow or the lemon yellow. Probably the butter, possibly the lemon. I’ll send samples soon …”

And a girl, 20-something and…

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