Fiction 2017 / Spring 2017 / Uncategorized / Volume 47

Dust—Wm. Anthony Connolly

He cleaned up in anticipation of her arrival. He made things look right. He dusted the tables, the lamps, the curtains and the shelving. He pulled out books and CDs and cleaned behind them. He sprayed cleanser on the TV screen and wiped it clean. Everywhere he looked, dust. In places, the dust, beggar’s velvet she called it, was so thick he wrote in it. Then he destroyed the evidence. He did not want her to see that he had not cleaned his apartment, that he never cleaned his apartment. Dust was a dead giveaway. There was never any dust in the house when he was growing up. Every Sunday after church his mother cleaned the house from top to bottom. She would mumble prayers as she dusted and vacuumed. He often wondered why she had to clean the house every weekend. Everything had it place. Dust did not settle. It was unsightly to her. Anything unclean was unsightly to his mother. She could not look at a dead cat on the side of the road. Bury it, she said. Open caskets frightened her; she did not see her own mother for the very last time as she lay in the final box. His mother even dusted the day she got the news her lump was malignant. She said, we always tidy up. She had a full mastectomy. With time to spare, he sat on the balcony and lit up a smoke. She was not expected for another hour. Tired as he often was now in the late afternoons, he sat and watched the blue smoke make moats in the air—then disperse. He was calming down. He did not hear her come in the apartment. He did not notice her footfalls as she came up behind. He only caught the tail end of, Memento, homo, quia pulvis es, et in pulverem reverteris. He brushed ash off his chest, and rose slowly.

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