And Exhale

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Welcome to another Friday Freewrite. Some days I just need to sit down and write. Some Fridays I share what I’ve written with you.

On day thirty-five, she asked me where my childhood pet was buried.

“Next door in the backyard,” I said, taking a huge bite out of my ham sandwich and chewing slovenly. When I spoke, the crumbs tumbled out of my mouth and spattered softly across the waxy paper plate.

Tramalta put down the bag of chips she’d been opening on the table beside me and tugged firmly on my arm until I was on my feet. I struggled to swallow the mouthful of gooey white bread and deli meat I’d been chewing as she pushed me from the kitchen and out through the screened-in porch.

“Show me,” she said once we were outside, our feet crashing through the jungle of unmowed grass. It was more of a statement than a request.

Show me, you will. Yoda, she’d become.

I led her into Marobi’s backyard and we headed over to the old oak tree that dominated the far corner of his lawn. We didn’t have trees like this one in our yard. Thanks to a decade’s worth of storms, the trunk was now almost entirely bent in half. Above our heads, a grid of branches stretched out across the sky.

We had to duck beneath a particularly low hanging limb in order to get closer to the trunk. When we straightened, Tramalta gathered the skirt of her cotton dress in her hands and settled down into the grass so that she was resting on her shins. She cradled one set of toes in the arch of the opposite foot

“This here?” she asked, gesturing to the thicker section of grass where we had buried Rufus.

“Yeah,” I said. Then she pulled me down beside her and I felt the resounding thump of the earth as it shook beneath my heavy frame. A thick strip of heat slapped me across the face. I awkwardly cleared my throat. She only inhaled slowly and closed her eyes, a row of delicate lashes fluttering down across her cheeks.

“Do you feel that?” she asked. Her breath was warm and sultry. Another deep inhale arched her back and pulled her chest up toward the sky. She put her hands together in a prayer.

“Umm…no,” I mumbled.

“Here,” she insisted. The next thing I knew, she was grabbing my hand and burying it in the grass beside her.

“Listen,” she said. With the pads of her fingers she pushed on the back of my hand, flattening my palm against the earth. “Feel it.”

She inhaled another sharp breath. Somewhere nearby, a gentle breeze kissed against the pendants of a wind chime, impregnating the air with the sound of muted peals.

“The two of you are connected now,” she assured me. I checked to make sure her eyes were still closed before I let my skepticism show on my face.

“You loved him so much. I can feel it,” she continued firmly. Her brows knitted together as she stressed the importance of the words. She said everything in that same, strange way. Whether she was ordering an iced tea (Liquidized nourishment for the soul, baby) or reading to me from one of her leather-bound poetry books (Can’t you just feel the energy in their words?), her calm demeanor was always laced with a subtle intensity.

She took my free hand in hers and brought it against her chest, letting my fingers splay out across her heart. A tingle of electricity shot through me.

“It’s palpable, Gus,” she said. “Feel your love for him joining with your love for me. Feel it flowing through my body.”

I wasn’t sure if I loved her in that moment, but I liked the thought of having Rufus nearby. I let her press my hand to her heart a little while longer.


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