Snippets: Model Behavior

August 19, 2009

I closed the front door, tossed my keys into the half-heartedly woven basket Caroline had made at summer camp, and strolled into the kitchen to be confronted by a Viking ship.

A model of one, at least. Wooden hull and tiny oars and draconic prow only: no sea-faring raiders included. It was an intricate piece of the work and had surely taken many careful hours to assemble. It was precisely the sort of thing Anya seemed to produce after every one of my trips – the sort of thing I could never actually picture her sitting down to make, given her erratic attention span and energetic nature.

Even now, she danced into the kitchen to greet me with a one-handed hug and a peck on the cheek, before whirling away to perch on the countertop beside the Viking ship. She had a half-dozen folded cereal and soda boxes tucked under one shoulder, and began to hum as she plucked the dangling tabs and carefully tore bits of them apart in some mad quest to make each one the same size and shape… even knowing she would be shortly tossing them in the recycling and making the effort meaningless.

She looked up at me with a smile, while I was still standing there and watching her with what was surely a bemused look upon my face. “Hello!” she said, and went back to her work.

Anya was… ah, she was a force of nature more than anything. She was constantly busy, even with the most trivial of tasks. She was a whirlwind of activity, unpredictable and energetic and alive in a way most never know. It was easy to forget that, while I was away. The memory of my wife was simply a series of imperfect snapshots – frozen moments that couldn’t capture the constant motion that defined her.

Draping my coat over a chais, I collapsed into another with a satisfied sigh, and looked over towards the model. “You’ve certainly kept busy, as usual.”

She hopped off the counter and dropped her pile of tattered paper boxes into the recycling bin beside the porch door. She began to fidget with the curtain’s on the door, twisting the slender glass rod that drew them open and closed. “Caroline sent me a letter this morning, from the boarding school. The boys are teasing her, she hates her history teacher, and wants to join the soccer team. I went down to Donna’s for lunch – I spent the morning making sandwiches, I had fifteen sandwiches, and you know how much her girls like them when I make them. Mother called when I got back, and I went down to the store to pick up flowers for next Monday – oh! And some new paint, I was thinking of repainting the room upstairs over the weekend.”

“The guest room, you mean?”

She turned back around, and raised one eye at the question, even as her gaze roamed around the room, focusing anywhere but on me. Shaking her head, she strolled over to my jacket and picked it off the chair, smoothing out its lines. “Your office, of course. Why would I repaint the guest room?”

Jacket in hand, she strolled back down the hallway to return it to its proper place in the hall closet, while I called after her, “Oh, I don’t know. What did your mother want to talk about?”

The closet and the hallway tried to muffle her words, but they came through clearly nonetheless. “She wanted to know if I would go to the funeral. My cousin is dead.”

She stepped back into the hallway and looked back towards me, finally looking me in the eye. “Did you kill her?”

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