Canton Writes 2015: Amber’s Wait

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The Canton Citizen, a sponsor of the annual Canton Writes contest, will once again publish the winning entries as space permits. This week’s entry by Ellen Efstathiou was selected as the winner in the Middle School Prose category and also garnered the Best in Show award.

Amber’s Wait

Where was that handkerchief? It had been here just last week. Then again last week was when Amber’s daughter had “cleaned up” Amber’s house. Clean up indeed! Clean up should probably be renamed “throw everything out except for the house and the person.”

Where was that handkerchief? Amber squinted at the tabletop in an attempt to see better. Her eyesight wasn’t as good anymore. The doctor said that she would need surgery to correct it. Another surgery to think about. They said that retirement is restful, but you were always rushing off to the hospital for this ache or that pain or that funny bump on your knuckle that you’ve had all your life, but nobody’s cared about until now. Restful retirement indeed!

As Amber continued rummaging on the table her hand brushed against a cloth. She stiffened at the touch. It wasn’t the handkerchief, but another cloth. The ripped piece of a skirt. I specifically told her to throw this away Amber thought angrily. Amber decided to write a letter of complaint to her daughter because whenever she called either she got the answering machine, (her daughter had a desk job, where was she going!?) or she ended up on the phone for hours listening to her daughter talk about people Amber didn’t even know. Withdrawing her hand from the table she brushed against the fabric again and she shuddered as the memories came back.

It started with the boots, like always. Horrible, tall, black boots. Boots that crushed all living things. They marched in a row, those boots, stamping mercilessly. People rushed out of the way of those boots. They seemed to stop at nothing the boots. But eventually the boots ran too. This was not a heroic act on anyone else’s part though because they were fleeing from the fire with the boots.

No one knows how the fire started, but it started in Amber’s house. The smell of burning wood scarred her to this day, but she had been five then and had thought the fire was pretty. Until the fire burnt her. Amber’s mother had carried her out of the house into the street. By then the fire was spreading to other houses.

“Wait here Amber,” her mother had said. “I’m going to grab us some coats. Stay here.”

“Don’t go Momma,” Amber had cried. “You’ll get burned.”

She had grabbed her mother’s skirt to stop her, but the fabric just ripped in her hands. Sure enough her mother hadn’t come out of the house and Amber had kept the fabric close to her for many years. However, as more years passed the cloth began to hurt her as opposed to help her, to the point that she didn’t want to touch it. But Amber had kept her mother’s last words with her.

And Amber was still waiting.

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