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Tag Archives: Moira

fragments…Howard ~ 8

bougainvilleaThe bougainvillea had again spilled over the railing onto the deck, a magenta skirt. Howard gazed at it as he dressed. His mother had loved the plant, which seemed the antithesis of all the snowy places she had lived. Here, under the warm sun, it grew everywhere in gnarled, woody abandon, draping its brilliant pinks and oranges across walls and fences.

Moira had loved it too. Reminded her of home, she said, and right away, as soon as they moved into the house, Howard had dug a hole in the patio planter and carefully spooned soil around the exposed roots of the young plant. For a while, it had been a modest houseguest, its heart-shaped leaves and papery flowers the perfect backdrop for snapshots. But at some point, when Howard was turned away, it had bloated and surged, taking over everything in its path.

Then — now, soon, he could see — Howard would battle the bougainvillea with clippers and leather gloves. The delicate flowers and tender leaves gave no hint of the inch-long thorns secreted within the fluffy greenery. As he attempted to subdue the plant, pruning it back to a more reasonable size, he swore and bled, Moira standing in the patio wringing her hands.

Now Moira was gone and so was his mother, but the bougainvillea clung to the wall, insistent as a memory…
bougainvillea photo


Howard opened his eyes, surprised to see that it was morning. He had no memory of the night, of dreaming, of turning over. It happened so rarely now. He had taken sleep for granted. Had, for decades, dropped into its deep pool without a ripple. Awakened with the fading wisps of vivid dreams. Then, perhaps ten years ago, sleep had become elusive. He wasn’t tired at night, had to lure sleep with hours of reading or hypnotic television. Some nights that old blissful tiredness would overtake him and he would turn out the light only to discover that he was wide awake. Or he’d sleep and wake up feeling finished with sleep only to discover that it was still the middle of the night. But last night, sleep had been waiting for him, a familiar lover.

The bedroom faced the morning, a wall of windows and doors opening to a small deck where he’d often sit with his coffee. He still expected to see Moira there, pretzeled into a yoga pose to greet the day. But she was never there. She had departed before sleep had left him, or perhaps they had left together, eloping, abandoning Howard to the empty embrace of his down comforter.

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