We left her silver-chain pendant at the airport. It was always better for us not to carry around physical reminders of our dead relatives. We had once read this piece of advice in a women’s magazine as we waited for a routine procedure. The dentist was removing our old mercury fillings; he had told us they were poisonous, that breathing in mercury vapor could lead to a stroke, or a crippling form of brain disease. He informed us we would not remember who other people were; we would not even recognize the faces of our parents or children. Prosopagnosia, he termed it. Without switching out our old fillings, we would be neurologically impaired for the rest of our lives. In the years since this warning, we have wished for that condition, that seeing our grandmother die of endometrial cancer left us scarred. Her death-face had stiffened her jaw, left her thinning gray hair a scraggly mess. Her lids were slightly open, the sclera of her eyes a sickly yellow. We took her silver pendant before they carted her away on the gurney. We ran the silver chain through our fingers, passing it back to one another, sister to sister. The amethyst sat worn in its cheap setting. We knew this piece of jewelry was worth only a few dollars. It didn’t mean much sentimentally either. Our grandmother had purchased it from a thrift store a few months before her death. Yet, the glint in the purple stone held something of our grandmother, though too much for us to carry it around. Before we boarded the plane, back to see our children, resume our normal lives, we hung the pendant around the neck of a female mannequin, a face we would never recognize again.
Brett J Barr is an artist/ tattooist, born in Easton Pennsylvania. He grew up in Daytona Beach, moved to Orlando FL in 1997 and now resides in Chuluota FL. Aside from tattooing at Built 4 Speed Tattoo in Orlando, Brett enjoys many different art forms such as graphite, charcoal, paint, pen and ink, mixed media/ graphic design, woodworking miniatures and studies classical guitar.
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