Thursday, June 21, 2007

THE CANDIED HEART OF SANTA MARIA

Between bouts of severe dizziness, Lois had managed to totter halfway across in the vacant lot adjacent to her building before collapsing again. When she awakened, a plastic fruit roll-up wrapper was caught in her hair and stirred softly in the breeze. She had an overwhelming sensation that she'd been there before--in that exact historical moment--staring at the sparse weeds and gravel in the lot in the precise formation they were arranged in now.

She'd had this feeling only twice before.

The first time was in Palermo when she'd mistakenly joined a funeral procession to the sea. She stumbled on a cobblestone and as she flew to the ground, she caught a close glimpse of the death shroud. Its octagonal weave was immediately familiar to her, as though the pattern had always been there when she closed her eyes.

The second time came much later, as she was fastening the button on Michael's overalls while he stood on a chair to get a better look at the warblers outside the window. As she absently did the button, she stared off into space and saw the edge of Michael's shoelace, the woodgrain of the chair he was standing on, and the worn formica floor beyond. It was something she sensed she'd seen many times before but had been unable to identify until then.

Now, in the vacant lot, Lois had a canted view of the gray rumbling sky and a diagonal swatch of the freeway as it disappeared behind an abandoned factory. She knew she'd seen this many times before, but she hoped that this time would be the last.

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