The phone rings. I hear my mama’s voice talkin soft.

"Yes, I know. I’m sorry. Yes, but it’s the best I can do. Give me time. Things will turn around. Please. At least I’m sending something. No, I can’t do that. Not more. Not yet. Maybe next paycheck…."

It’s the same thing everyday. The phone rings and Mama talks. Then, Mama cries. I hear her.

Today I sneak out of bed to peak into her room. She’s at her desk with her head on her arms, like she’s takin rest time at school. She is quiet but her shoulders shake. I see it. Why is Mama so sad all the time? I run back to my room and dump out my crayons on the floor. I draw lots of happy things for Mama. Big rainbows, the zoo, her and me with balloons, and a smiling sun with big cool shades on. She loves big dark shades! She wears them so the sun doesn’t make her sneeze. We’re eatin ice cream too. Mama loves ice cream, the kind with cherries and big chocolate chunks in vanilla, dipped in rainbow sprinkles. That’s her favorite.

I go back to Mama’s room hidin the picture behind my back. I tiptoe in. She’s not shakin now. Just restin with her head on her arms. Maybe she’s nappin? Sometimes I fall asleep during rest time at school. I sneak up and give her the biggest bear hug I can. My bear hugs always make Mama smile.

"Why you cryin Mama?"

Tears are good, sweetie pie, they wash away the poisons”

“What poisons?”

“The bad things like hate, anger, and frustration

“What’s frustashun?”

“When something gets so bad and you know there’s nothing you can do about it ‘cept wait it out”

“Oh”

She always answers my questions. I can ask her anythin. I give Mama her present. She is smilin now. She wipes the frustashun off her face with a kleenex and holds up my picture to see it better. We go to the kitchen to make some lunch. Peanutbutter and Jelly. My favorite! With apple slices too. Mama never eats with me though. She’s on a diet. I don’t know why. She’s not big and fat. Her dress looks like a big old circus tent on her, kind of hangs there.

While I’m eatin she talks about walkin in the zoo. We don’t get balloons no more. She said someday she’ld get me the biggest bunch of balloons with all the colors of the rainbow. We don’t get ice cream no more neither. But, we still walk around the zoo lookin at all the animals. She ties a string onto my picture and hangs it up in the window. I put my plate in the sink and put on my shoes tyin them all by myself. We hold hands, go outside, then Mama turns me around to show me my picture waving back and forth in the breeze.

“See that sweetie pie? As long as we have that everything will be fine.”

“My picture?”

“That’s hope, dangling by a string.”

“I better make lots of pictures then”

“You won’t need to, that thread won’t break."

Mama’s got a lot of faith in that piece of string…

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