If I wanted to, I could just extend my arms and hug her, because there she is, opposite me, and the distance... The distance, you see, is so close—but I hold myself back.
She is looking out the window.
Perhaps she is immersing herself in the grays and purples quivering there, on the other side of the glass, reaching a blur in the cold October sunlight. Perhaps, with great patience she is waiting there, waiting for the night, for the darkest hour, which is when her image may finally appear. It will come to the surface in front of her as if it were a sunken spirit, rising from the deep. Out of nowhere.
For now she seems lost, searching for something—perhaps her reflection—in vain.
I worry about mom, about the little things, which to someone else—someone who does not know her as I do—may seem trivial, insignificant. I worry she is missing her pearl earrings. I must find them for her. The little hole in her earlobe has shrunk away, turning somehow to flesh.
In a whisper I say, “Mommy?” and wonder how the air vibrates over the tender membrane of her eardrum, how it changes into noise, how she gets it when pitch rises, when it falls.
Can she sense the change?
At what point does it translate, somehow, into meaning? By what path does it penetrate, going deeper? Does it excite the nerves, fire signals up there, between regions of her brain?
Coming back to his childhood home after years of absence, Ben is unprepared for the secret, which is now revealed to him: his mother, Natasha, who used to be a brilliant concert pianist, is losing herself to a mysterious disease, which turns the way her mind works into a riddle.
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