The curtains on the lanai sagged with resignation. Years of dust obliterated the lace patterns. The sunlight filtered through, patchy and sparse, flitting and recalcitrant, as if ashamed to be seen in such a place. Martha lit another Virgina Slim and stared vaguely out into the backyard, where a small brown dog moved about as if underwater. A sprinkler spit it’s rhythmic robotic hiss a few doors down. It was day like any other day. Bingo tonight at the club. Maybe she’d invite that cad Harold. He looked so ridiculous in that coral leisure suit, but she could usually get him to spring for a few screwdrivers and maybe a plate of those Costco canapes. Better than another bowl of grape nuts, Martha figured.
Thinking about canapes made Martha hungry. She unfurled from the recliner, a damp depression remaining in the worn cushions. Mind fixated on the half box of triscuits (reduced sodium) in her minds eye, and didn’t see the brown dog, suddenly underfoot. The dog let out a yelp as Martha tripped over the brown mass and went sprawling, lit cigarette rolling under the couch, smoldering in the embrace of an ancient taupe carpet. Blast you, Benji, she croaked, the wind knocked out of her.
Martha crawled toward the couch, chipped ferrari red nails reaching under, searching for the cigarette, which seemed to be burning a bit brighter, the air filling with the smell of melting plastic. Her fingers clawed around, a sightless spider searching for it’s prey. They brushed something smooth and hard, something heavy, boxy. She yanked at the object.
A thick book emerged from the nether regions of the couch, trailing a cloud of thickly scented blue smoke. Pages spilled from the book, which seemed to be held together by gravity and dust. Martha sat up, opening the book, and the past spilled out. Drink coasters from that trip to Key West with Ronald, matchbooks from the Main Sail Inn, The Shipwreck Lounge, Eddies’ Oyster Oasis, The Bubble Room. Tickets to see Seals and Crofts with Jimmy Buffet as the opener. And of course photographs. Parties, Holidays, endless cocktail hours. And the colors. It was as if she was currently living in a world of sun bleached tans and pale greys, faded beige and eggshell whites. But her past, these photos, the colors jumped, the patterns sang. There was life, there was joy. Martha sat, paging through her scrapbook, each photograph triggering joy and sorrow in equal parts.
The couch started smoking, and anemic flames licked the beachcomber themed wall paper. But Martha could not look away from her scrapbook. Let it burn. It was time to start again.
BTP Woven Tropics bar tape commemorates Martha’s late life rebirth. When you wrap your bars, imagine Martha riding an alligator to bingo wearing a bright floral print frock. Harold is nowhere to be seen.