sounds that are missing

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     For most of her life, my mother wore a stack of thin gold bangles on her wrist. If the house was quiet enough, I could hear them jangling from any room, especially as she did her chores, which seemed to be all the time. My mother's name is Nadia. She has icy blue eyes and freckled skin. Does she want to keep her hands busy or does she need to? Is there a difference?

     I inherited that from her. Constantly fussing, shifting from task to task with frustrating dissatisfaction. When my mother goes to weddings I braid her golden hair in a crown around her temples. Even then, forced into stillness by the tugging of my fingers, she shifts in her seat and lists all that she should be doing. Sometimes she lists with her words and sometimes with her eyes.

     Every now and then I would hear her bangles jangling at odd hours in the night and saw the light of the laundry room from under my bedroom door. The fierce scraping of bristles told me she was scrubbing at stains. When my mother says my name with an upward lilt, it means speak slowly, bring me back gently. My mother says "nothing looks familiar anymore, nothing feels familiar." My mother laughs absently.

     She removed her bangles after I left for college. When she calls me on the phone, her voice is backed by perfect silence. I hold my breath, we listen to the hum of the line. My mother's name is Nadia. She has a clenched jaw and a distant gaze. I always wonder where she's calling from.