The war was over. Lotion, cortisone and Vaseline tubes lay crumpled and spent along the bathroom sink. A shrunken tar soap bar fizzled suds futilely by the drain. Triumphant dot-like lesions marched up my abdomen and claimed my navel. A new era of flaky skin had begun.
He finishes the sandwich and picks at the plastic plate, looking for leftover bits of chicken and lettuce. His lips move while he reads his phone. Thick black glasses perch on top of his bald head. His cheeks are jowly. A white gold band cuts into his ring finger like barbed wire grown into an old oak tree. He sits alone at the small booth in the corner. It is dinnertime.
I hang up. “Beth, they’re coming to take our baby.”
Beth at the sink, her shoulders slumped. “How can they do that?”
“Our love scares them.”
Her hands shake. Silverware clatters to the floor.
“Shhhh. You’ll wake her.”
Upstairs, tiny eyes open.
By evening, the flood was deep enough to overtake our second floor. The streets are now rivers. Earlier the Joneses’ dog, Tidbit, floated by us looking like those polar bears on runaway icebergs. Meanwhile, the neighborhood waited helplessly on their rooftop islands.
Sara’s mother-in-law in the kitchen; upset. “How can this be? A home must have a coffee maker. Now I know your Christmas present!”
“No, please don’t. I won’t use it. I go out for coffee. Really. Don’t.”
Christmas morning. Coffee for all.
Her bag’s packed, hidden under their bed. Stashed inside is money, a ticket and pretty red heels.
Any day now.
Decades later, sorting her things, I’ll find her dusty suitcase next to a shoe box
filled with photographs of me.
Down in Florida, in a tucked away community,
old men in tattered chaps, rusty spurs, and a holster on their hip,
play checkers and bingo, eat applesauce and custard, and saddle up their rocking chairs to dream of a Wild, Wild West.
Slotted rocks filter rays of starlight onto her hair, her face.
Beautiful and broken, her ankle anchored to granite.
“Go,” she whispers.
My stare like a pinky swear. “I’ll come back for you.”
Then I run, a comet trailing dust and tears.
I hit send. I said what needed saying. It’s risky. Hopefully, she hears the plea in my words. The love in my criticism. The good daughter I try to be.
Heart catches in my throat.
Dear Amy: I give up.