Where My Eyes Are From
I turned to face the door and sat down in the centre edge. It was the softest part of mama’s large queen-size bed. I ran my large grey eyes over the bed. Papa had built this bed. The bed was rustic but sturdy. Because of the many years in the timbers, the bed talks like an old man when you are on it. Right now, the bed is not talking because I am not moving. The white cotton sheets were crumply and warm. I wanted to climb into the sheets but I could not.
We had buried mama at 3pm. The day had been long and tiring.
The few friends and family returned to our small two bedroom cottage on the edge of town in the hills of Mt Crosby. The offering of sweet tea and cake to the mourners wrapped the day. However, the sweet tea did not change the taste in my mouth. Soon, they left papa and me. We sat together on the small veranda and did not speak. At 15, I knew half of papa was buried with mama this afternoon.
The day hurried passed. Soon, it burnt orangey into dusk. The ambers from the remains of the daylight pierced through the small cottage.
“You can go to her room” Papa had said close to 5pm.
I saw the small clock on mama’s bedside as I sat down. Mama’s room smelt like Vanilla with faint coffee. I had tried to shut out the noises with the door, but I could hear the puppies. All five of them ready for their milk. They needed their mother. A sharp pain went through me.
My hand felt under the pillow slip and I found it. The small white envelope mama promised before she took her last breath. I gazed back at the door. I waited. My heart started to race.
Through the gaps in the window I caught the late breeze approaching carrying bush smells of Gum and Acacia. I could hear my father humming “Gershwin’s Summer Time” and rocking in the old chair. The chair squeak was rhythmic and soothing. It re-assured me of his location. I did not want him to come in.
The house seemed to mimic Papa’s humming and suddenly I felt the sadness heavy in my chest. Papa was a real sweet man. Not only did he lose his woman, but his best friend.
I sat still and held mama’s envelop; firmed by the content of its small card. In this envelope was something mama wanted only me to know. My stomach did not feel right and I knew it was something I do not wish to know.
The room held on to the last of day light. In this dim light I read my name written neatly across with dainty curls. Mama always made a point of making big long tails in letters ‘y’ and “g”. My name was Margaret Meadows. Mama shortened it to “Maggy” with a “y” instead of an “ie” like in other Margies which was short for Margaret.
I brought the card closer to my nose. It smelt of Vanilla too. This made me smile and my eyes salted. I felt that weight in my chest move up to choke me. I looked at mama’s photo of us in a white frame by the bed. Tears rolled down my eyes. Slowly, I pinched the corner of the white envelop and slit the end through with my index finger. This forced the white envelope open to reveal a small red card.
I eased back on the bed. I felt I needed some support and security before I opened the red card. I let my shoes drop on the wooden floor. I starred at the door; hoping papa would not come in. I need to be alone when I read this. That was what mama wanted.
“My Love Maggy,
You were born a beautiful baby of glorious soft honey skin, pink lips, fair hair and long legs and arms. You were a fairy with piercing eyes. I swear if you had had wings, you would have flown away. Your eyes were a mysterious twinkle to your father and me. When you were little I had wondered if you were worried or just curious about your eyes because you asked me many times why your eyes were different from your father’s and mine. As you know, we both have brown eyes.
I need you to understand that Paul Meadows loves you like his own daughter. There is not a single person that loves you more and not a single reason to be ashamed of who you are.
Your grey eyes came from a man named Peter Sullivan who was once your father Paul’s best friend. Last year, I found out that he died in a car accident while driving back to Brisbane.”