Oh how I love things as they used to be

Miranda sat in the corner of the guest bedroom, collapsed in a heap of pigeon-toed uncertainty.  The tears streaming down her cheeks carried clumps of eye shadow down to her lips.  The makeup’s initial tang gave way to a sticky burning sensation as her tongue wiped the stuff across her teeth.  Her head slung between her elbows, she rocked her neck backward and elevated her blurry gaze to the photograph in her hand.  Cradling the oblong scrap were fingertips slightly caked in artificial cheese powder.  No sooner had she wolfed down a handful of the neon snacks was she upstairs, tearing through drawer after drawer in search of a picture of her before she got her hair cut.  The guests assured her that they believed that her hair was indeed floor-length and quite lovely in the sun, but she insisted on presenting infallible evidence.  Vaulting over each step with drunken confidence, Miranda eventually settled on searching the spare bedroom after taking inventory in the medicine cabinet for the twenty-third time.  Her step-mother Ellen would kill her if any of the damn guests got a hold of her medications.

The dresser in the guest room served as a repository for weathered photographs, worn baby clothes and other forgotten trinkets.  Pulling the first drawer right out of its housing, Miranda spilt its contents across the floor in a cascade of memories and temporal placeholders.  Cursing and laughing under her liquor-soaked breath, she examined each photo as she put it back in place.  Here, she spun about a carousel as the wind caused her indeed floor-length hair to brush against the (un?)lucky little boy riding behind her.  There, her good-for-nothing little brother attempted to make bunny ears behind his own head as the two sat otherwise peacefully on a bench overlooking Niagara Falls.  Pocketing the two pictures, Miranda felt a bit of vomit creeping up her throat.  Not wanting to damage the photos, she halted her reminiscing and haphazardly stuffed the squares back into the drawer.  She staggered to the adjacent bathroom and dry-heaved for a few minutes before rinsing her hands, wiping her mouth and returning downstairs to show off her findings.

Though she had enough proof of her previous hair length, Miranda’s unexpected voyage into her own past was too enjoyable to suspend any longer.  Heeding the call of the photos, Miranda slunk back upstairs while her guests engaged in conversations that didn’t require her input.  Fixing the first drawer back into the dresser with one hand, she readied the middle drawer for its inspection.  Clutching the gilded handle, Miranda’s orange fingers pulled the drawer open.  One step behind on the dresser’s apparent timeline, this drawer bore more undeveloped reels of film than proper pictures.  The photos that were inside were gathered in the paper folders the supermarket’s lab had delivered so many years before.  These’ve probably never been opened, Miranda hiccoughed.  She shuffled through the pictures, significantly less interested in these than the previous drawer’s offerings.  Following a pair of photos of her in front of the Statue Of Liberty (one where she blinked, one where she didn’t) was a washed-out picture of a giggling baby in the arms of a woman with a sad-looking smile.  Miranda recognized the baby as herself from other pictures, though the birthmark on her and the baby’s elbow was a more overt indicator.  Miranda craned her neck toward the guest room door to see if anyone was in out the hallway.  No one.  Placing the rest of the photos on the bed, Miranda brushed off a thin layer of time and sat down on the bed and stared at the picture.  Who is she?  That room isn’t in this house, but she looks like she’s related to me.  Maybe it’s just a babysitter that Dad got to watch me after Mom —–

Had her fingers been clean, the picture would have fluttered to the ground, but the orange powder clung to everything, and everything clung to it.  Unsure of what else to do, Miranda turned the photo over.  In a handwriting that wasn’t unlike her own, Miranda read out loud:

Anna and miri, September 1983

Miranda stood up in a combination of ecstasy and disgust.  She tried to shake her hands free from the photograph, but it stuck to her like napalm.  In her effort, she unwittingly rose to her feet, wrestling with the memory that was forcing itself onto her.
Anna and miri, September 1983

It backed her against the wall.  It strangled her until her knees buckled.  With her legs propped up in front of her, Miranda sat crying for mercy.  Why won’t you just let go of me?  With a few more wriggles, the photo finally gave up and glided to the carpet.  Gathering her breath before standing up, Miranda tried to conjure what little memories she had of her mother prior to being attacked by that picture.  Miranda regained her footing and shuffled over to the stack of photos she left on the bed.  Her fit had knocked a few onto the ground, and scattered across the floor and under the bed were dozens of photos’ backsides.

Anna and miri, September 1983
Anna and miri, September 1983
Anna and miri, September 1983

Miranda’s eyes darted from one picture to the next.  How many pictures of her and her mother were taken in September of 1983?  Were these photos simply used as scrap paper?  Was Anna her mother?  Was her mother Anna?  Miranda’s eyes glazed over in a mist of more tears and unconsciousness.

Over a wax paper cup of punch, a boy whose red-tinged teeth betrayed his drinking habits for the night asked where the lovely host had gone.

“Probably passed out upstairs.  That lush.”


~ by E. on March 18, 2009.

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