I think in terms of missed chances. I think about why I want what I want, and why I don’t want the rest, and what I’m missing out on by not wanting. I think of children. I always knew I didn’t want children, I grew up surrounded by them. They were always needing, always wanting. I was a child, responsible for children, when they got hurt it was my fault because I wasn’t paying attention. He used to say, ‘Just get your damn head out of the clouds and pay attention, do the job you’re given. It’s the least you can do, to help us out.’
When the toddler fell in the drive that day, he hit his head, right between the eyes, on a smooth flat stone. He lost consciousness. We’d just been going for a walk in the drive on a sunny day, and I let his hand go because he could do it himself, and I was tired… twelve years old and so tired of arguing with children. So I let him go and he ran ahead, laughing. I had the little one on my hip, and she was smiling and pointing at the monarchs, they were everywhere. Lighting on the swaying Queen Anne’s Lace, hoards of them turning the meadow beside the house to fluttering, breathing, fire orange.
He screamed as he fell. I ran to him, I set the baby in the grass, and I rolled him over, I screamed for Mom. She came running, and she grabbed him up, demanded what happened. She ran to the house with him.
I didn’t follow. I sat in the grass beside the baby. When I started to cry, she crawled into my lap, wrapped her arms around my neck, and said, ‘Mama.‘
Stella – (a working title)