The Tale of the Ivy Lady

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She married young, as was expected, and produced two kids. She spent her days on her bicycle, pedaling them to and from daycare, school, activities, doctors, one kid at the front, one at the back, grocery bags dangling from the handlebars, dry cleaning draped over her arm. They grew bigger, learning to feed and dress themselves, eventually getting their own bikes, finding their own friends, finding themselves.

Watching them blossom over the span of 20 years, she probably served 100,000 bowls of rice and nearly as many of miso soup, uncountable pickles, several schools of fish. She was up at 5:00 every day to start the laundry, pack the bentos, plan the evening meal. She was there for torn jeans, scratched knees, bruised egos, broken hearts.

And then one day she woke up and realized the children had grown. She sat across the table from a man she didn’t really know, her slippers suddenly feeling strange against the soles of her feet, her hair pulled back too tightly, air going in and out of her lungs but supplying no relief.

So she had herself copied at Kinkos and sent the clone home to cook and wash dishes, then sat down on an unobtrusive tree stump. She closed her eyes and waited for peace to come. Birds rested on her head, cats and clouds wandered by. Through the riot of spring’s rebirth, ivy began to creep toward her toes but on and on she sat. During the summer’s swelter, ivy snaked its way along her shins and toward her knees but patiently she sat. While the autumn leaves did their exquisite transformation, ivy made its way across her lap and up her belly but still she sat. Winter’s rain and snow fell, icy winds blew, the ivy crept over her breasts toward her neck, and yet she sat.

One spring night as the tendrils of ivy started to caress her chin, the shadow of a smile touched her lips. She opened her eyes. The full moon shone with such lurid clarity that she could see the veins in the ivy leaves, the motes of pollen dancing in the gentlest of zephyr breezes, the ants’ footprints trailing in the dust.

She shook herself free of the ivy and raised her arms toward that too perfect moon. Taking the deepest of breaths, she threw back her head, arched her spine and exhaled everything that ever was and ever would be.

And then she was gone, nothing but a twinkling luminescent dusting on the ivy leaves, which mourned her passing but grew on into the night.

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