Return to Anna and her Mother: spinning me in circles (fiction)

Anna is spinning in circles. How she hooked up with the other two girls, I have no idea. I don't even know their names.

The tall girl, pushing them around and around on the merry-go-round, makes me a little nervous. She spins them up as fast as she can, waits until the absolute breaking point between falling and flying, then leaps upon the ride squealing.

The silly-looking girl, in the bright red coat, lies with her head tilted over the edge, her long brown hair flaps out from her head in a wave. Most of it is a comet tail to her face; some of it drags the dusty ring around them.

They are all screaming sirens and the sound always fills me with a feeling not unlike pure panic. I've never heard my daughter screaming in terror and I don't think I would like what it would do to me.

I keep expecting the one in red to fly off the edge, tumble to the ground, her laughter snapping into cries of pain or, worse, silence. She doesn't though; her upside-down smile and thrilled eyes keep zipping past me.

Anna looks a little frightened up there. She stands straight in the center of the platform, her tiny arms wrapped around the metal bars. She keeps moving her head so that she can watch me while she spins - I know this is going to make her far more sick than if she just closed her eyes- she can see me here. She is all gapped teeth and wild, windblown hair. Her cheeks are icy red... she's a little afraid. She loves this. Something about her loves to be a little scared.


Anna is sick in the car from spinning. I don't chide her for her excess. I figure that I have a few years before I will have to lecture her on moderation. I buy her a cherry Mr. Misty from Dairy Queen.  She sips it in silence and watches the light posts - she seems to be counting them again.

"How many, Pood?" I ask.

"Thirty-seven." She says absently, then looks down and sips from her straw. "I think." She burps and giggles.

I excuse her, and stare forward at the shiny, wet road and overcast clouds.

"Did that little girl say something to you as we left?" I say this because they had both looked back at me as they spoke. "What did she say?"

Anna grins but says nothing. She's seven and has already learned how to keep a secret.

Nothing I say can pry it from her lips. This makes me laugh.

Anna is wearing cherry Mr. Misty on her mouth like Tammy Faye wears lipstick.

Anna is so much like her mother that I feel dizzy.


Angelica is trying to repair the damage in her flower garden. She's digging in the dirt; her smooth knees are caked with mud as she slings the trampled, mangled flowers into a bucket. The expression on her face is stern but I'm unsure if that's the true emotion.  Why should she be mad?  It was her dog, not mine, that took up digging in her flowerbeds.

The puppy- she named 'Killer'- laps playfully at her dirty feet and she grabs a handful of loose dirt and drops it on his head. The yellow lab pup bounds away from her, tail wagging frantically, and shakes it away. He runs back to her and grabs the tail of her shirt, tugs it and shakes his head side to side - even through the glass door I can hear his mischievous growls.

Angelica picks up the spray nozzle and drenches him.

Once again he runs away and loops back for another row.

She laughs and stands for a brief instant before her foot slips in new mud and she falls butt-first onto the ground.

Killer, soaked and filthy, leaps into her lap and drowns her in dog slurps.


Angelica's mouth is red from my kisses, the edges almost blurry from the morning scruff on my face. Her arms come forward toward me to pull me back to her... I'm trying to get up because I'm going to be late for work... again.

She's laying there in bed with the white sheet draped across her. The sunlight shining in the window behind her turns the white bed into fleshy shadows in the shape of her body.

I notice this while I pull the pre-tied necktie over my head and slide the knot to my Adam's apple.

I don't bother taking it back off when I fall back into bed beside her.


Angelica is reading in the living room and I'm trying to do the taxes. From this part of the room I can only see her bare foot tapping silently against the end table.

When I arch my neck up, to look above the back of the couch, I see her playing absently with her hair as her eyes flick back and forth across the page. Her face is butter cream in this light. She always sits around the house wearing nothing but a long T-shirt and a pair of panties, her bare legs curled beneath her. It drives me insane - how do I get anything done?

I sit here for a long time and stare at her. It takes her almost fifteen minutes to even notice me watching. When she looks up and me and smiles I ask: "What are you reading?"

She flips the back of the book to me. "Harry Potter."

I realize that I've forgotten how to do the taxes again - what was I doing?


Anna falls asleep lying against me while watching TV. She doesn't even notice when Angelica walks back into the family room with three bowls of vanilla ice cream.

"Well, she went out pretty fast." Angelica sits the tray down and takes a bowl.

I nod and move Anna carefully against the arm of the couch and the pillow, she doesn't even stir.

Angelica hands me a bowl and I slip a spoonful of cold sweetness into my mouth. She looks down at her bowl and shrugs, then stands and walks back to the kitchen. She returns with a brown bottle of Hershey's Chocolate Syrup and covers her mound of ice cream with a dark flood. She smiles to herself and mixes it until it's swirls of brown and white.

She looks over at me, a dollop of chocolate on the edge of her mouth.

"Do you need anything else?" She asks and licks the chocolate from her lips.

I shake my head and smile. "No, hon, I'm fine. This is perfect."

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