I picked up two books from mom tonight. I offered to take them to storage. Though she said she would do it herself, she agreed when I told her I wanted her not to have to carry so much. She took them out of her bag, one wet and molding.
“I should give you a bag to put…,” she said.
“No, that’s fine,” I replied.
As soon as I left her, I wished I had a bag. Even when I left the moldy book on a platform bench while waiting for the train, I couldn’t put the other in my backpack. There could be mold spores on that book, too, and I didn’t want that to affect the hat I am crocheting. There’s something else.
I’m trying to keep a separation between her experience and mine, between my experience with her and my life elsewhere.
I go into the market with the impossibly priced bunches of asparagus on the way home. My hands feel foreign as I survey the bank of perfect produce. I feel like I should wash them. I pick some lettuce and broccoli and can’t shake the feeling.
As I round the corner and glide the edge of my hand under my nose to address a sniffle, there it is. The smell that I could only describe as a combination of car exhaust and body odor, reminds me yet again where and how she is.