© 2014   Ava Decapri,    "Chair"

© 2014 Ava Decapri, "Chair"

Queen Cranberry

//Barbara Jay

Julie stands on her tip toes in front of the big picture window.
She preens in the mirrored reflection.
Her smile takes flight.
Her heart beats fast.
Perfect she must be.

Her Mommy shuffles to the kitchen and starts the coffee.
She has knots in her stomach.
She busies herself with the laundry and ironing.
She lets her mind wander to the day she gave birth to her daughter.
She reaches for a Kleenex.
Then she winds her Timex watch.

Across town, her Father throws his legs over the side of the bed.
Slowly he gets up, coughs, walks to the bathroom.
Just another day.
He dresses, skips breakfast and heads to the bar.
He hopes not to be the first one there.

Again, he has forgotten.

Slowly…deliberately…Julie prepares for her day with Daddy.
She wakes up early.
Bathes in fancy bubble bath.
Dresses in cranberry-red colors because he adores her in red.
Mommy carefully braids her hair and weaves in satiny ribbons.
White lacy ankle socks cushion her spit-shined black patent leather shoes.
Perfect she must be.

Her Mother wrinkles her forehead and sighs.
She looks through the movie listings…just in case.
Her heart aches at the thought.

Her Father is laughing with his friends oblivious to her anticipation.
He drinks beer and looks hopefully at the ladies.

Again, he has forgotten.

She asks Mommy what time it is.
She practices dancing to her Father’s finger twirls in front of the window.
She must twirl quickly in case she misses seeing him pull in front of the house.
She doesn’t want to waste a moment.
Perfect she must be.

Mommy prepares lunch now.
They have to eat.
It’s getting late.
She makes grilled cheese, Julie’s favorite.
She looks for the chocolate milk in the refrigerator.
A special treat.
She worries. Please, not again…not again.

He listens to one last joke.
Slowly pulls away from the bar and absently wonders where he’ll go next.

Again, he has forgotten.

It never dawned on Julie to sit.
She didn’t want to get wrinkled or scuffed or smudged.
She stood tall.
She watched.
She was sure.
How much longer Mommy?

Mommy prays out loud:  Soon, child, soon.

The football game finally lulls him to sleep.
The TV tray holds his half-eaten sandwich.
He never bothered to get undressed.

The sun was setting when Julie first moved from that window.
Slowly. Quietly.
She wilted toward her room.
Tears filled up her eyes.
She didn’t understand.

She cried herself to sleep.

Mommy stood in the shower and hoped the water was loud enough.

Her Father woke with a start.
It was pitch black outside.
He thought he heard his name. Silly.
He grabbed a blanket and moved to the couch.
He drifted back to sleep.

Just another day.

//Barbara Jay lives in New York. She is a public school teacher and a proud mother of three. 


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