>crossing the center line


Becky was ten when she started coming into our office to spend time with her Mom and to *help* us with our work. We gave her drivers’ logs to organize by name and date. The entire time she sat at the old green metal desk with the drawers that screeched when opened, she chattered. Did we think Cinderella or Snow White had the better life? Did we think it was true someday we’d find ice on Saturn’s moons? Her mom and I would turn to smile at each other when she wouldn’t notice.
Nothing balanced on the days Becky came to work. The financial statements I worked on took longer to complete. I would be deep in debit-credit thought when Becky would murmur  Oh Randy. Allowing her the privacy of a teenaged crush, I kept working with my adding machine – the big monster thrashed and bounced on my desk, chugging out one division problem in 4.5 seconds.  A little bit of time would pass and then she would sigh, Oh Everett. Once I left my desk to look for a pretend rolodex card just so I could watch her — she was writing notes to her favorite drivers and kissing the heart-shaped paper before stapling them on the drivers’ logs. Randy Dear, Please sign the bottom of your log. Love, Becky.
Her mom told me later that Becky was her spark — her color purple. Life with Becky was unexpected. Like the color purple, one never knew when she would burst into your space. Her two sisters were green and blue- something you encountered every day, but Becky was a surprise. She was the one who ate pickles while playing Horse basketball with the boys across the street. She’d set the pickle on the asphalt driveway when it was her turn to shoot. She’d make her shot and retrieve her pickle. She was the one who could not be contained, the one who could not be kept. On the day I learned I was pregnant with my own daughter, I was driving back to work from the doctor’s office listening to the radio. A highway fatality was on the news.
(My dad sent me this photo this morning. I think he wrote it was from the Sun River, but as soon as I saw the purple blooms on the gravelbar, I was reminded of Becky.)

About redmitten

author of Cracking Geodes Open, Making Good Use of August, and The Peppermint Bottle. poetry editor for IthacaLit. website: https://toomuchaugust.wordpress.com

6 responses to “>crossing the center line

  1. >I loved the description of a child in relation to colours…I'd have to think about my own daughters colour…Here's to all the purples in our lives. Such a bitter sweet story. I like the way Becky would leave notes for the drivers.

  2. >You've made me feel very sad, knowing what you must be telling us here. On the opposite side, you've given Becky life again, and for that, I am grateful (tears forming in my eyes). For you, I perceive it is a fond memory, and the flowers a welcome reminder. I bet it made you treasure your own daughter, just a tiny bit more than otherwise, because you knew. Thank you for this- think I'll go hug my son now (Tears dropping, so I'll wipe my face first).

  3. >I just noticed your title. I wrote a short play called, The Center Line.

  4. >I love how you drew everything together here. You included your dad, the color purple and all your readers collective appreciation for unbounded, yet poignant enthusiasm for life.

  5. >hi mike,i have been thinking about "the cup is already broken" — are you familiar with that? you have a deep heart.hi kerry,when i first got to know becky, i was not a mother and so her mother's idea of becky being purple was novel to me. when my kids were born, i realized and fully experienced how each child is born entirely him/herself. my daughter is red (the warm, vibrant, alive). my son is a sort of burnished gold (comforting, forever). hi annie,i'd like to hear more about your play. and i am glad you hugged your son. becky's mom and i are still close friends – it means quite a bit to hear that becky can still touch the hearts of others.hi kass,becky = enthusiasm for life. i like how you saw that. a side note to this- interesting, isn't it that the purple was in the gravel bed. a few weeks ago when i was visiting my friend at his cabin on the ridge, we were checking for thistle along the road. road? it was a etched out piece of switchbacks but he had had gravel poured along the route to ease on erosion. apparently thistle seed gets carried in gravel and such thistle produces purple blooms that are beautiful, but toxic to cattle. having spent the day with him studying thistle along his road, i was better able to understand how these purple blooms appeared the way they did. still and all- my first reaction to dad's photo was to remember becky. the surprise she put into our lives.

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