I am old enough to know my numbers because Mom points to the black and white alarm clock on the bedside table and tells me I can wake her when it says 3-1-5. She is trying to catch a nap while I play with her tin of necklaces—strings of beads and shells that clatter against the metal when I tug at the tight lid and it finally gives way. The numbers of the clock are white on small black plastic rectangles that flip like cards in a rolodex. There is a small click as a number falls into oblivion. Do I understand the concept of time, or am I just watching for 3-1-5? I am waiting and doing something grown up.
I am lying in bed, waiting for sleep, listening to the hollow flow of the Edens Expressway. It sounds like someone breathing or like a heart beat or like Mom’s rocking chair after being tucked in–someone is there even though I can’t seem them.
I am seven, and my younger brother is five and a half, and Mom and Dad and I have a secret. Each night when Noel falls asleep, I sneak into my parents’ room and join them on the bed. Sometimes they are watching Masterpiece Theater. Sometimes they are doing needlework or reading. Sometimes Mom and I play a game. She takes a yellow legal pad and scribbles random lines—zig-zagging-, swirling-, figure-eighting-lines—all over the paper. Then we look for things in the random shapes. “I see,” Mom says, holding the “see” like a whole note, “a house.” Then she takes the pen and traces certain lines to reveal a house. “I see,” I say, holding the “see” like a whole note, “a flower.” Mom hands me the pen, and I trace the lines that make a flower. Bees, dogs, rabbits, faces, socks, windows, and leaves, we find a whole world in the 8.5 x 14 space of one yellow legal pad.
I am lying on my bed, watching the red and white lights of planes blink across the sky. I watch to see where the next blip of light will appear, what line will be revealed, and when it will be drawn beyond the frame of my window.
I am sixteen. I want to paint like Van Gogh. I go through my bedroom window onto the roof to work on a canvas. A deer appears in our yard, and because deer do not come to our neighborhood by the highway, I feel doubly lucky to be on the roof where I can see its whole tawny form against the greenery like one of the found creatures on a legal pad. It pauses and looks back as though something is pursuing it. It leaps the viburnum bush, darts across the street and disappears into the margins of other homes.
2 responses to “Color Doodle”
Liz. Very touching piece, love the art work, weavings of then and now…different beds, same wonder and warmth. Thank u.
Thanks for these beautiful words, Susan! And thanks for reading.