I wished, the crying in the middle of the night would stop and it did. The laughter stopped too, but the scent of baby powder still clings to my arms.
When Jim and I broke up, I had my portrait painted in the foyer of the mall. A little girl yelled, “Look, he’s painting that beautiful woman,” and watched until the painting was finished.
Eight-year-old Amanda isn’t writing a letter to Santa Claus this year — she already has what she wants. She smears a message on the wall of her room, with unsteady hands covered in blood and mutters, “Daddy won’t ever touch me again.”
Lifting up, up, up off of the crinkly papered bed, she floated aboard the majestic, wooden air ship, where she slow-danced with Prince Charming’s handsome son, wearing a flowing ball gown that sparkled like diamonds in the melting lip-gloss gold sunset that the circus animal crew – elephants and zebras wearing colorful hats and silly shirts – was working to sail into, paddling their oars rhythmically against tufts of cumulonimbus clouds as if silently marking the beat of her dance. This was her favorite place to go whenever Mommy and the doctor started talking about her cancer.
“Sweetie, what on EARTH are you doing?” Claire asked, beyond surprised to see Chelsea, her pig-tailed, freckle-cheeked, pink-shorts-wearing four year-old daughter, hopping repeatedly on one foot for balance while jamming the other down the toilet, two dandelions grasped in one hand while the other worked the flushing lever.
“Well we bringed flowers to Grampa in the hospital yesterday, so now I’m gonna bring flowers to Bubbles,” Chelsea answered matter-of-factly, of course referring to her comrade who had, several weeks ago after a violent incident involving one of his (larger and more aggressive) bowl-mates, been sent via toilet flush to the fishy hospital.