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QRD #32 - the car crash issue - March 2007
about this issue
Crash - Brian John Mitchell
Crash - Alan Sparhawk
Crash - James Newman
Crash - Nathan Amundson
The Wreck - Will Dodson
Bound and Loose - Patricia Russo
See and Say - Patricia Russo
She Was a Doll - Tara Vanflower
David Galas interview
Jamie Barnes interview
Rivulets interview
The Goslings interview
Gifts for Touring Musicians
I Heart FX - Martin Newman
I Heart FX - Nathan Amundson
I Heart FX - Shane DeLeon Sauers
QRD - Thanks for your interest & support
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See and Say
by Patricia Russo

     After she died, it fell to me to clear out her things.  Mostly this involved dumping armloads of clothes into plastic trash bags.   I kept back a jacket, and an almost-new raincoat, which years later I threw out, never having worn either of them.  Some of the bags went straight to the dump, more to the thrift shop in her town.  Same with her furniture – trash or thrift shop.  Bathroom stuff – into the garbage.  The unopened bottles of gin, brandy, and wine in her closet went to my brother.  The opened ones I upturned over the sink.  My brother wanted the photo albums – he got them.  Knickknacks and religious pictures – garbage.  It didn’t take long. 
     She had a jewelry box.  She kept it on her dresser, under a layer of dust.  It had always been on her dresser, this one or other ones, in this room or other rooms, for as long as I could remember.  It was wooden, and small, about as long and wide as my hand.  The lid was broken; it had been broken forever, the hinges snapped.  I remembered that, before I picked it up.  Dust, and dry, cracked wood. Sandpapery, splintery.
     I sat on the stripped bed, which was going to the curb that night, and lifted off the lid.  Nothing much inside, which I had known before I looked.  A few brooches, some buttons, a couple of letters from my father, decades old, folded in their envelopes.  Her wedding ring, my father’s name engraved inside, had gone into the coffin with her.
     Under the envelopes with their single-digit stamps, I found teeth.
     Oh, I thought.  I remember this. 
     She’d saved my baby teeth.  She’d wrapped each one in plastic, and sealed the cling wrap with scotch tape.  A dozen or more neat plastic rectangles lurked beneath the letters.  I shook them out into my hand.  Several of the packets were flecked with brown.  Blood, ancient, dried.
     Many of the teeth were broken, fragmented.  Well, they were old, I thought, they were just….I held one up to the light, then another.  More than flecks of brown, spots of black.  The black was not on the  plastic, but on the teeth.  And not just spots, but holes. 
     I got a pair of scissors, snipped off the end of a so-carefully sealed, so meticulously preserved packet, and gently tapped out one tooth that looked intact.  An incisor. It came out whole, but as soon as I touched a fingertip to it, it crumbled to fragments and dust, gray and black.  Gray, the remains of the tooth.  Black, the decay.
     She’d saved my baby teeth, but all of them were rotten.  She’d saved my baby teeth, and all of them were rotten.
     Next verse, same as the first, I thought, and all the verses that would follow.  The beer bottles kept dropping off the wall, and the weasel would keep popping.  I let the dust, gray and black, fall on the mattress, and wiped my hand on memories.