As a yellowish mud pools about the piano a thick swarm of flies swims, intent on smothering all life out of the air. The buzzing of the broken air-conditioner gives to the day the sense of it all having been a dream. Someone has drawn a smiley face in the dust that covers the piano stool, ignoring for one moment the stack of sheet music that spills to the ground. She’s a fragment of who she was before the operation. Daddy, of all men, says, “Of course it matters.”
How her hair comes out in clumps; the chemo, strips her down to essentials. In the chair with the straight back he picks at the liver spots on the back of his hands, the evening air rolling through the house with the queasy certainty of a coming storm. Her ballet-slippered foot pumps the pedal and the notes stack up on top of each other, towering, flailing, falling minuets.
James Claffey is an Irish-born writer and educator who lives on an avocado ranch in Carpinteria, CA, with his wife, the writer and artist, Maureen Foley, and their Australian cattle-dog, Rua. His writing has appeared in various publications including the Drum Literary Magazine, the Molotov Cocktail, Everydayotherthings, the Toronto Quarterly, Shadyside Review, and the Cobalt Review. More is forthcoming in the New Orleans Review, Connotation Press, Artichoke Haircut, and Palooka Journal.