When I brought Mom back from Dad’s cremation, she walked to a corner of the living room and stood. To give her some space, I went into the kitchen and had a cup of coffee.
When I returned, Mom appeared to have a lampshade on her head. That was surprising because Mom was never the life-of-the-party type, not to mention now was no time to be having a party. Then I realized she wasn’t wearing a lampshade – her head had become a lampshade.
I didn’t know whether to call a doctor or an electrician so I did neither. There was no reason to be hasty because I didn’t have to get back home for a couple days.
By next morning, Mom’s transformation had progressed to where she was a floor lamp. I knew it was Mom because the base of the lamp bore a strong resemblance to her pumps.
I was concerned that, even though it was a sunny day, Mom was on. (My folks had taught me to not waste energy.) I attempted to switch Mom off, but electricity arced from the harp and zapped me. It hurt like a son of a gun (I’ve always shocked easily), and a cartoon image of my hair standing on end and my skeleton flashing flared in my mind.
I thought about unplugging Mom, but was afraid if I did, she might starve. How was I to know? No one in our family had ever become a lamp before. I decided that when I left town the next day, I’d leave her on. It wasn’t as if a lamp was going to meter up the utility bill washing clothes or dishes. Besides, I’d watched enough medical shows to know how important it is to first do no harm.
I spent the day running errands, reading and talking to Mom (a strictly one-way conversation) until bedtime.
Next morning I awoke to the sound of dishes clattering and found Mom making a big breakfast like she always did when I was home. When I told her what had transpired, she sighed and said it was ironic I would dream about her becoming a floor lamp because Dad always said she was the light of his life.
Mom almost convinced me the whole thing had been in my mind. But when it came time for me to go, I leaned in for a hug and noticed the pupils of her eyes were shaped like tiny light bulbs.
Mom admitted she’d changed into a lamp. I reminded her how she used to warn me when I frowned that my face might freeze that way. What if something similar happened to her when she was a lamp? She said she couldn’t promise it wouldn’t happen again if her emotions got the better of her.
What could I say? Everyone has to deal with grief in their own way. Some people transform into floor lamps. Others write a silly little story.
David Henson and his wife have lived in Brussels and Hong Kong and now reside in Peoria, Illinois. His work has appeared various journals including Briefly Zine, Moonpark Review, Literally Stories, Riggwelter and Pithead Chapel. See more of Dave’s work on his website and follow him on Twitter (@annalou8).