Cynthia J. McGean
Blemishes and Grace
a short story
by Cynthia J. McGean

	Bruce Lockhart lingered a moment outside his apartment building before flagging down a cab.  He squinted at the hazy sky and held a handkerchief to his nose.  Summer pollution hung in the air, its thick heat colliding with his lungs after the cold comfort of the air conditioning.  He blinked at the bright sunlight and thought how out of place it seemed.
	He was on the way to bury his mother.  Mrs. Lockhart had been a meticulous woman - attentive to detail, always tidy and punctual.  She had a clock in every room.  A simple circular wall clock in the kitchen, a stylish modern one in the dining room and a gorgeous, ornate German piece with porcelain figurines prominently displayed on her mantelpiece.  She dusted them every day and kept them precisely set.  She had been the rhythmic, ever-present background to his life every day until she died.
	Bruce paused on the street and listened expectantly for the stillness in the city that should mark his mother’s passing, the moment of silence.  He searched for the out of place detail that would expose this disruption in nature’s order  - the stray thread, the off-balance statue, the misaligned street sign.  The world had to notice the death of a woman like Mary Louise Lockhart.  Yet the sunshine remained unbelievably golden.  The world continued shockingly routine.  The buses would be on time.  The offices would open and close as always.  The housewives would buy their groceries and the children would go to school and the neighbors would walk their dog.  How was this possible?  How could order exist when Mary Louise Lockhart was gone?
	A girl in a maroon sweater skipped past him, squealing and laughing.  Bruce Lockhart winced.  He wanted to grab her, turn her upside down and shake the laughter from her like the coins in a piggy bank.   When a woman like Mary Louise Lockhart leaves this world, children should not dance.  
	His mother would have reprimanded the little girl and given her a heartfelt talk on proper behavior in a public place.  He could see his mother’s slender, translucent index finger resting on her thin, pursed lips as she signaled the little girl to silence.  Mary Louise Lockhart understood grace.  She knew the way things were done.  Bruce Lockhart stood helplessly, his hands at his sides, watching the little girl skip away across the square to stop at the ice cream vendor.
	Just then, a taxi pulled up to the curb.
	“Where to?” the driver asked.
	Bruce Lockhart gave the address, but not the name, of the funeral parlor.  It seemed wrong to tell the driver he was going to a funeral - rude, somehow.  His mother would not want to draw undue attention.  She would want everything smooth, simple, understated.  Bruce wanted to stand on top of the cab and scream to the world, demanding it stand at attention, bringing its routines to a grinding halt.  But that would not do.  Not for the death of Mary Louise Lockhart.   Decorum was called for.  Decorum and punctuality.   
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BLEMISHES AND GRACE copyright 2007 Cynthia J. McGean.  All rights reserved.