Wrapping my aging adult hands around the cast iron toy bus, I move out of my body and into an inexplicable sphere. I feel the soft squishy child’s hand in my own. It is as if my hands cover and simultaneously inhabit her hand.
Partially hidden behind a ratty chair in the dark room, my four or five-year-old mother scoots the toy across the worn and smoggy rug. Pulling back, I see her round face topped with dark curly hair. She mutters quietly to herself. I cannot make out any words; she is in her own world.
Diagonally across the room, my grandfather, mom’s dad, exists in a dark fog. I cannot make out his face even as he stares in my direction. His clothes, face, and rough hands carry both dirt from physical labor and emotional weight. His grief slows his body movements creating an aural fog that darkens his ginger locks even as they poke out from beneath his work hat. He cannot see the childhood innocence that rolls the bright red bus across the floor.
Though he sits in a chair (is that the evening Plain Dealer on his lap?), he’s emotionally rolled in on himself in a fetal position on the dark floor. The world is too much! And so he seeks to return to the womb.
From the other room emanates the clanging, boiling, and sizzling of dinner being prepared. The uncloaked third-floor windows reveal the last, dusky embers as the Cleveland day says its goodbyes.
Slowly opening my eyes, I place the only physical manifestation left from my mother’s childhood on the table. As I return to the present, a lingering sense of her soft squishy hands and the ginger-haired man crouched in a dark and dreadful fog remains.