This is part of the character development process for my novel, “Sarah”.
The town was almost perfectly preserved. Vines as green as a healthy spring season grew intricately from red brick to red brick in all the proper places, complimentary to the air of wisdom the buildings held in their stoic faces. There was Mom-and-Pop Shop lettering blaring white in the sun, and there was an honest-to-god functioning French-themed café on the main corner, complete with black iron furniture gracing the sidewalk just outside its front door. A word I learned the other day…quaint…this entire place was quaint and surreal. Tony and Jason talked about seeing places like this a few times years back, but it was all new to me, so different from the splitting wood protruding from rocking chairs abandoned on Southern porches and faded, blistering plastic kiddy tables with edges sharper than The Dead Man’s teeth.
This new place seemed to look like a home; the homes I read about in books and the home that was my own so many years ago before my mother left my father’s dead body writhing and gurgling on their bed. Did we have a garden? Did we have a porch? Were my memories so far gone? Were they permanently tainted with the images of blood soaked strangers holding their intestines to their stomach in vain; of their faces dimly lit with the realization that they were going to become another statistical fatality to the endless pandemic? In every dim-lit pair of eyes that went blank and cold I saw my mother, I saw my mother’s eyes exhaust everything she ever was, erased like she never was anything. But I was too young to know what it meant, and after carrying that image around with me for 12 years I still feel nothing but the desensitization to death itself.
So, there we were, in this quaint little town that remained untouched by death itself, breeding nostalgia and hope. It’s a wonder I felt anything at all. Anything…normal.