Little Girl

Norah clings to her mother’s neck with one arm, the other holds on to the arm holding up her little frame. Though she’s bouncing about as her mom walks briskly, this place, on her mom’s hip, her face close to her mother’s cheek, this is the most comfortable place she can ever be. She sees the sun streaking across the lawn, making the grass glow neon green. It’s late afternoon. Maybe it’s summer. Maybe it’s already evening. They are walking between their house, the big brick house her father built, the house she shares with four siblings…. and her grandmother’s house just a lawn away….fenced in for separation. Her father is over there. Maybe he’s on the back porch with Momo. She is always on the back porch. They are headed there to visit, to talk, to eat. Norah is put down on the wooden slabs of the porch, her naked feet feeling the peeling paint. She looks over at the bush with the little red flowers that make apple-like fruit. She jumps down into the dirt and tries to pick off a giant hydrangea from the bush next to it. She runs out in the yard but stops when the stickers attack her soft, pink feet. There are lots of them in Momo’s yard, so she runs back up the stairs and listens half-heartedly to what the grown-ups are saying.

It doesn’t really matter what they’re saying. Because Norah is safe. She will be picked up again by her mother, or she will ride on her Dad’s back or maybe she’ll just run back home. She will feel what she has always known. That she is loved. That she is beautiful. That she is accepted. Valued. She’ll feel these things without naming them, without knowing what they are. She’ll feel them like the air that fills her lungs. She will have enough food to eat and a big house to live in with her own bed, next to her sisters. With matching sheets and curtains and their weird giant red, orange and yellow flowers. In her world, the tree she climbs, the frogs she chases, the chickens she feeds are eternal. They will always be there. The sun will always streak across the lawn bringing night with no regret and no anxiety about the coming day.

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