A Tire Swing Story is a bite-sized "imagining" inspired by an object I discover while wandering. It could be a curbside trash gem or a message sprayed on a wall. A lost mitten, or an antique store find. Anything goes. I photograph the object and post them together, the story and its inspiration. There will be a new story every Monday and Wednesday. On Fridays, I'll discuss writing, life, love, and coffee. (In no particular order and maybe all at once.)
Monday, November 19, 2012
Gramma Lizzie never minded.
"Allie, you gotta remember only one thing in this life," she'd say, pausing to take a drag of her cigarette, "just be yourself."
Gramma Lizzie taught Albert about rock music. In her living room, she'd play her favorite records and they'd dance. She'd raise her skinny arms overhead and sway. "Listen to that guitar, Allie. Can you feel it cut through your bones? Pete Townshend is a genius."
Today, Gramma Lizzie is lying in a casket at the front of St. Michael's church. Albert and his parents are waiting in a lineup for their chance to see her. Albert is wearing a suit his mom bought for him yesterday. It's too big and the sleeves hang down over his hands. The pant legs are wide, and he's had to roll up the bottoms. On his feet are shiny black shoes and striped grey wool socks.
It's their turn.
Gramma Lizzie's got on her purple pant suit, but that's the only familiar thing about her. Her face is caked in makeup, and set in a half smile she'd never have made when she was alive. Gramma Lizzie smiled big, or not at all.
"You can touch her if you want," Mom says.
"This isn't her," says Albert.
When they sit in the pew, the wooden bench creaks under their weight. Albert picks up a bible and fans the pages and there is a musty and unpleasant smell.
The priest starts to speak. "Please rise," he says, and they all stand. The organ begins to make low mournful sounds that fall over the church like a heavy blanket.
"In the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit."
Gramma Lizzie would have hated every moment of this. "Be yourself," she'd said.
Albert reaches down and yanks off his shoes. Then he pulls off each of his grey wool socks and steps into the aisle.
"Son?" his Dad whispers.
Mom tries to grab his arm but just catches a handful of fabric. Albert slips out of the sleeves, and she's left holding the jacket.
The priest stops speaking and everyone is silent, watching Albert walk out of the church in his bare feet.