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  • Green Sky, Pearl-handled Derringer (It’s all about me)

    I need to tell you about Lonny. About her aneurism and stroke. I walk toward the store trying to name the colors in the leaves and sky, imagine a photograph with those yellow green orange purple grey leaves against the pink orange blue purple grey sky thinking brilliant thinking clash remembering Biker Buddy saying that if I was going to say that I couldn’t name colors I shouldn’t name them, but the colors I name blend together to make new ones. Like feelings, so messed up. Meanwhile, as I notice the sky is turning green and think: tornado, a bright red BMW convertible roars up and slides to a stop beside me in leaves.

    Inside, a blond, highly coiffed woman picks up a large old-fashioned purse, the kind that unlatches at the top, opens it and reaches in. In the ten to fifteen seconds it takes for this to happen, I image a whole novel with Biker Buddy having an affair, his mistress wants to marry him and is going to murder me. She takes a tiny pearl-handled derringer from her purse, lifts it and aims toward me. I’m the only person on the windy sidewalk. But she loses her nerve and drives off, spinning her wheels. Maybe it was just a cell phone. Maybe it’s the wrong mistress of the wrong man and I’m the wrong woman, I think, as the sky gets greener still, a tornado sky, or maybe she just lost her nerve. A black SUV pulls suddenly up beside me. The sidekick. Perhaps he’s going to do the dirty work.

    Wait, I imagine your saying, what does any of this have to do with Lonny?

    Did I ever tell you about Lonny and me, in Mr. Carbanaro’s Zoology class, competing for the highest grade, grabbing our tests from his hand to compare the scores. No, the prognosis isn’t good. I forgot to tell you because words, sentences and paragraphs can’t even begin to imitate thought and feelings with their many lightning layers. While I was looking at the green sky and the unnamed colors, I was also wondering where you go when you’re in a coma. I remembered Lonny at the stumpy barbecue with baby Aliya on her back and imagined her, now, hung above her body in glow of light, ethereal in a place that coincides with and overlaps earth, perhaps another dimension. Does she already know what will happen, or is she waiting like the rest of us, waiting to see if she can recover from the brain damage and return to us. Or if she must go. Die, in other words. Is it heaven, or limbo, or nothing, this place where she waits? People often speak of light they come back from a near-death experiences. Does it last only as long as there is a trace of life in the body? Is it a figment of an imagination grounded in the physical brain?

    I remember a game we played, trying to teach children about ecology. We formed a giant web with string tied to everyone in the circle, back and forth, this way and that. If you were a fish and died from water pollution, your string pulled on the bears and the flies and the herons and the kingfishers. Like friendships. They weave in and out of our days, waxing and waning with time and distance but oh the sharpness of worry, love hurting as if it were new. The sky turns dark and I wonder if whatever trick of light that causes the green, whatever meteorological event remains as the blue and black predominate. Night. It’s called night. Night, like a metaphor for . . .

    I can't focus on the possible threat of tornado with the warning threat of green hidden in darkness. Instead, suddenly, I remember every friend and relative who has died.

    But Lonny’s still alive. Alive, at least in body. Is she alive, or not? She was so smart, so young. (I hate that “was.”) A grandmother, but a young one. I am missing her before she goes. Dies, that is, dies. If she’s going to. We all have to die. That tornado might come, even in the green-less night. Everyone we love will die. But not right now, please. Don’t shoot Mr. Accomplice in the black SUV. Drive away, I’m the wrong wife. You're in the wrong story. This story is about Lonny. No. NO! Not about me.

    (Less than a week after I wrote this, Lonnie died.)
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