[Throwback Thursday — This was originally published on February 18th, 2013.]
There are some things you just can’t forget, no matter how hard you try.
The loud noise screeching from my phone,
the world so blinding it couldn’t have been real; but it was. The Charlie Brown-like “wah wah” emanating from this robot,
I’m not sure if I was adding more to it or it to me. The shaking, the earthquake that was my body as I listened to the story, explained
clumsily, but with more vivid detail than I had ever experienced. The panic, the crushing ceiling
inches above my head; the horrid pungent waste of my dog sticking to my septum. Had my apartment always been
so small, so vile?
The car ride a blur, however; the same roads, same speed, same signals same signs same noises, as if everything was
But during the walk up the wobbly path, I remembered: it wasn’t. It would never be again.
The adults talked, looked, listened; tried to make sense of the minute details — the
the stories. It had to be a story, a dream. A pinch,
Another pinch, harder, still
Three pinches in a row. Sticky red stuff starts to drip. Now
Drip-drops. More pain. Not the
I was looking for.
The kids played Sonic on their father’s old SEGA, oblivious to what was happening. Everything was normal, everything was
Their mother, however, was
She couldn’t handle this; she was much too frail. Because, you know, having to actually be a mother is such a horrible,
kind of thing. I would step up, then. I would play with the kids that should have been mine. Never mind I was losing everything. I would tousle their flaming hair, the color of the rings around Saturn. I would tell them stories, read books, dance, run, cuddle. I would do this while taking care of their baby brother, my son. For them, I had to be
more than fine.
I had to be everything she was not, everything I had already been until she came back. I fell back into the routine just
The day finally over, I put them to sleep, thinking I should probably sleep as well. What kind of person can sleep at a time like this? Oh,
people, I guess.
When we woke the next day, we were hit with a very distinct memory; the striking smell of pine needles, peppermint, cinnamon, sap, cookies, mistletoe. A giant green tree kissing the ceiling, much higher than in my apartment, trimmed with tinsel of gold and silver; lights of red, orange, blue, yellow, green; ornaments from every generation, beautiful and tacky all at once: a baby’s handprint, a popsicle stick Rudolph, a cotton ball snowman, a crystal snowflake, a bright red glass ball with all of our smiling faces. There were presents, some wrapped so perfectly, you could tell much time was spent folding, cutting, taping; yet others haphazardly, hastily. It didn’t matter, Santa had come. And nothing bad matters anymore when the essence of Santa fills the air. We stayed in our PJs, drank hot chocolate, finished Santa’s leftover cookies, and began the mayhem of shredding paper and tape and boxes and plastic.
a simple question,
from a 5-year-old’s mouth,
though the voice sounded much older.
“When’s Daddy coming home?”
Santa couldn’t save us now.
Not even he could explain, to this
precious, stunning child, that
Daddy was not.
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