The voice at the other end of the phone is a pleasant warm one, a woman. She’s young, not so young that you can hear the inexperience in her voice, but young enough. Late twenties, rough with time, glossy with hope.
There’s a gurgle, and a small quiet squeal. New baby sound, close to the speaker. You can almost hear the hip jiggle in progress.
My heart bends, constricts and sighs, memory overlaid with echoes, the foreign land of a time I’d almost forgotten, and I can feel the petal soft skin of my daughter’s arms, the down on the cheek, the satin hair that tuck under my chin. I remember hearing those squirmy noises and thinking how curious it was that she had so recently been inside of me, snatching time under my heart.
I whisper congrats to this woman, to her newborn child, still dewy. Welcome.
They can’t be this old. Not yet.
Time is like one of those snakes of a spring that hide in those cheese ball nut cans, all ninja sneaking and fake noise. You least expect it to draw back and punch you in the nose, but then it does. Time shudders and overlays itself, moment over moment and you wonder just how you can possibly hold it all in. The angle of the sun on the grass. The slush in the driveway as labour began in earnest. The night sky that one summer when, too hot for sleep we danced through our street greeting the stars.
It scares me. I remember the lost child I was, the broken girl, the strong woman who needed no one and nothing and I cry even imagining this as you. I remember taking pill after pill and hoping for death, wanting for it, and I weep at just the idea of you, either of you, ever feeling such pain. Let me take it from you now, so instead as horses you can run, strong and swift and lovely in wind. Let me promise the day to never impose such terror upon you.
Were it to be this simple, a benediction to air, a promise to nothingness, a wish, a hope. I fill you each with as much beauty and wisdom and strength as I can muster, yet worry it is never enough. I obsess over things like new shoes or proper lunch snacks and hope I’m getting it right.
I was too alone at the age you are now Vivian. I see that phantom pain in behind your eyes sometimes, and to know I cannot change it hurts more than any moment of bringing you into this world. I see Rosalyn trying to understand why the other kids just do some things. And I can’t make it make sense then either.
Baubles for wishes? Days of my life for their to only be candy floss and sweet songs on air?
Tell me what the trade-off is to keep them soft and petal-like. Tell me their secrets so I can hold them tight.
Tuck them back under my heart, to rest quiet forever.
Stop this implacable rush to the future. I almost cannot bear it.