Ten Most Wanted
Ribbons, skipping-rope, toffee-apple, cuddles, chocolate, bike, kitten, dress, stability, love.
I wanted them all so bad
They flew, bright flags at the ends of braids: red, yellow, blue. My ribbons were supposed to be green, my favourite colour. Then Momma cut my hair. She said I look real cute.
Momma cut me some clothes-line. It wasn’t the same thing at all. I never played with it.
Standing by the merry-go-round, music ringing in my ears, I saw them -- juicy and sticky all at the same time. My hand tightened round my collection quarter, but Momma’d told me God saw everything.
Momma was weeping when I burst through the door, blood running down my leg. She gave me a half-hug, anyway.
She tried mixing cocoa and syrup, but it was never rich enough. There’d been no real chocolate since daddy left. I told her I wished I lived with him. She bit her lip to stop it trembling.
Mom handed me pen and paper. “Write to your father. Maybe he’ll listen to you,“ she said, in a taut, tired voice.
She wouldn’t let me keep even one. I woke up and they were gone – I was sure she’d drowned them. I ignored her for days. Later I discovered she’d found homes for all of them.
I danced in silk, turned ivory with age – grandma’s wedding gown, transformed by hours of painstaking needlework, sometime after midnight. Mom said it wasn’t near as lovely as me.
I sat by her bed, watching her struggle for breath. I wasn’t ready to lose her, but she slipped away anyway.
She said I’d be fine. Here in your arms, I know she was right. I find a smile, somewhere behind the tears, and kiss her goodbye.