Cover Photo: Dust by Rachel Bindl

Dust

She once said that all those shoes were our dead mother’s, but I knew it was a lie. Celia always turned green when she lied. It was easy to tell.

Celia had about forty pairs of shoes.  They were lined up in her closet, neat as a pin, sitting there waiting to be touched, waiting to dance; high heels, with their haughty self-righteousness, in reds and purples and blues; ballet flats, prim and proper, in pastels with bows and polka dots; and open-toed heels, looking so empty without a foot on their soles.

I never knew why she had so many or where they even came from.  She never wore them.  She only wore her worn out Nikes with ripped mesh and scuffed bottoms.  I never saw her without them, whether it was January or July.  They were just a part of her.

She once said that all those shoes were our dead mother’s, but I knew it was a lie.  Celia always turned green when she lied.  It was easy to tell.  

Just like I knew she was lying when she told me she was all done, that she was like the sun now, bright and hot.  That she was happy-go-lucky, just like a duck.

But it didn’t matter if I knew she had lied, didn’t matter if the blackness still crept up.  I was only twelve.  I had no one to tell.

I tried to talk to her, but Celia never liked that.  “Chit chat is for the cats,” she always said.  “I’m no cat.”  I wondered if she ever knew what she was.

We found her on the bathroom floor, dead, on a mild February morning.  Dad cried like a crocodile; big oily tears with large, chattering teeth.  I felt bruised.  

Seventeen.  So young, they said.  But only the good die young, right?  I don’t know. It doesn't feel like the right word.

Going through her closet was the worst, like a big huge treasure chest at the end of a colorless rainbow. There were shirts that I had never seen before, with expensive sounding labels and outrageous prices still clinging to the tags.  There were jeans heaped in a mountain that never would have fit her in her wildest dreams - pairs both too small and too big, none that were seemingly just right.  And all those damn shoes, still there, looking expectant as if they knew they were about to be transferred from one little lost girl on to the next.  As if they knew Celia wasn’t a duck, a sun, or a cat.  As if they knew she was nothing but dust.  

And that she had already blown away.

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