Her nest is too tall by the time Molly realizes she can’t climb in. “I left my tools inside. Should I stop?” She asks her husband, who looks at the wall so hard the plaster cracks.
“Put some of those plaster shards around the outside, honey? Like a fence, you know?” Molly asks.
“Yes, love,” Greg says, grabbing the broom and dustpan for the smaller bits.
They’ve been in a bizarro routine for days. Her mother says she’s using art to heal her loss. She hates calling the dead lost. As if one day, while doing laundry, she’ll find that one she hasn’t seen in years.
Genesis is in twigs she finds fallen from pines in their backyard. She spreads them across their guest bed on top of a forest-green tarp. They are so stiff, so still. She needs to make them into something beautiful again. Something with purpose. Molly gathers them together in the center of the tarp and, before she knows it, she’s made a small, semi-circular nest. This feels right, Molly tells herself. I have something here.
Greg follows his Dionysus, hoping she can make a way out of what’s crushing her. Him. Them. He believes Molly can make almost anything. He buys her a new hammer and handsaw. She builds and builds—long, slender fingers cutting and weaving fabric from flowing gowns, tying twigs with elastic bands, and eventually, sawing branches from around their neighborhood. Each time she adds to the nest, she snaps a photograph.
Some of the last material Molly puts in the nest. One for each child, flown away, she thinks. “Maybe that’s a better word than lost,” she tells Greg as she braids the three blankets into the twigs and maternity clothes. Flown.
She takes one last picture of the nest then develops her film. She orders the photos, conception to birth. A slow, steady witness to creation. She studies the structure that looms, that shadows her. The bigger the nest, the bigger the hole. She folds the photographs into thin rectangles and feeds them through cracks in the nest. It’s cavernous, sharp, and wooden. Inhospitable, she whispers to no one.
Hammer and Saw
Molly tells Greg they need to climb inside, just once. He takes pillows from their bed and throws them in the center of the nest, wide as the bed itself. They climb a small ladder. Greg gets in first, then helps Molly. Once inside, she hands him one of the tools she left. In this new world, it is only them and together, they hack at neighboring walls, rough twigs splintering, falling back in the nest, bursting them out.
Blake L. Bell is finishing up her MFA at Mississippi University and teaches at a magnet high school in South Louisiana. These days, she can usually be found at home teaching, writing, teaching writing. To read more from her, visit blakelbell.com or follow her @blakelbell.
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