The Early Morning Hours I Didn’t Know Would Be Our Last

by Anne Elliott

I woke gripped in icy clutches that morning, reluctant coils fading into shadow. Six years old, I hardly glanced out the frosted windowpane, snow softly falling as I shuffled out to you. Usually, we would read my latest book, delved from the depths of the library, or curl up watching Night Ride, will-o’-the-wisp city lights luring me back to sleep. But that morning you tossed your threadbare housecoat aside, and with sugarplum eyes said, how about we go out? And of course, I agreed, jumping into my jacket, forgetting my socks in my haste.
We bought Egg McMuffins and went to the park, matching star-spangled pajamas tucked into our boots; my warm, foil-wrapped package clutched tight in my small hands; I could almost see it slipping from my mittened fingers and hitting the pavement, egg spilling out onto the street. When we reached the swings, I bit in, relishing the crispy saltiness, molten cheddar sticking to the corners of my mouth, the sky slowly turning from pearl to orange and yellow and rose.  I didn’t know what dark thoughts thickened in your mind that night; I didn’t know that I would soon lose you; but, in that moment, I was cradled by the light of your face, and the rising sun.
The years pass like my tracks in the snow, winding slowly, closer to you. Since then, I’ve learned that healing is not forgetting; that while we walk in the footsteps of our mothers, our choices are still our own. Since then, I’ve given the shadows names. Now, when I wake early, when the streetlamps are bright or the sky is peaches and cream, I think of you; and for the first time I’m certain, like the taste of salt on my lips, that I am not alone.

Anne Elliott (she/her) is a Canadian East Coaster of mixed Indian and European descent. She holds a BSc in environmental science and studies creative writing. She currently resides in Vancouver, British Columbia, where she is never far from the sea. Twitter & Instagram: @anneswriting

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