Is it a Memory if it Never Leaves?

One year at Thanksgiving, when she was still very young, Lexi insisted on setting the table. She drew up little place-cards so that everyone knew where they had to sit, little tents of paper with our names written in large and looping print. She arranged the placemats perfectly, with even and appropriate spacing between them on the table in our grandparents’ sunroom, talking to herself theatrically about who would sit where, the importance of the proper arrangement of her guests.

She debated and toiled, shifting us in order around her table until the order suited her, her little smile soaking in the radiance of the unseasonably clear day beyond the windows and reflecting it back through wide, brown eyes that seemed to speak of something larger than what she’d done. When she was finished, Lexi leaned back, hands resting on her little hips, her head tilting haughtily at the production of her masterpiece, grinning through a missing tooth.

For just an instant, she was satisfied, unaware that somewhere in that delicate arrangement an imperfection was about to surface, a conflict of interest between two adjacent guests, a spot of ink inside the topmost circle of the B that began my name, an extra inch between our parents’ plates that somehow slipped past her in the excitement and would cause the misalignment of every subsequent position. For just a fleeting instant, a single tick of the white clock that hung on the flower-papered wall behind her in the narrow, sun-drenched room, her work there was done.

We love and miss you, Lexi. Today, forever, twenty-eight.

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