Holiday

© 2010 David Parker

We made plans to get out to the park early.
I made a picnic lunch.
We ended up eating it around the coffee table in the living room before we left.
Ruthie discovered that she likes salt and vinegar chips.
I discovered that I like picnics better when my bread hasn’t had time to get soggy.

We made our way to the park after lunch.
Ruthie had a secret for me in the car: Max’s breath stinks.
Max, who rode in the backseat with Ruthie, was indifferent.
We all hiked down to the waterfall together: a slippery slope.
Ruthie and I made our way to the other side of the creek, jumping from rock to rock.
Ruthie fell in.
We hiked back out, Ruthie running, the rest of us gasping for air.

I took Ruthie to a friend’s house to play.
We moms chatted and drank watered down Coke.
The kids gave each other traffic tickets for speeding on their scooters.
Ruthie went to jail twice.

We came home, made spaghetti, took a bath, read a book.
Ruthie fell asleep.
I painted my toe nails the perfect shade of gray.

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nothing breaking the losing of no little piece

© 2010 David Parker

I’m washing dishes at the kitchen sink. I’m angry. The water is running from my hands to my elbow and puddling on the floor around my feet. I scrub the plate hard, feel the beading around the edges. I’m thinking harder than I’m scrubbing, my thoughts like fists on the back of my brain. Put the plate down on the rack to dry. I’ve exhausted it. Pick up the forks, knives, spoons. In my small hands they look awkward, heavy, primitive. The skin on my hands is older, harsher than I remember. When I straighten them, my knuckles look like the rings inside a tree cut down. I pause. Bring my hands dripping out of the water, stare at them. Pick up a glass. More scrubbing.

I realize I’m holding my breath. Exhale.

There’s mold growing up the inside of my single-paned windows above the kitchen sink. The plants are drooping over the windowsill. It’s too hard to remember something so simple as to water them. Their pots were painted by Ruthie.

The anger is beginning to bleed out of me into the warm soapy water. With every tedious piece of silverware scrubbed clean, I feel less like wings beating against a cage.

I put the last clumsy spoon in the silverware basket, wipe my forehead with the back of my hand. My gaze is directed through the window just above me, but my mind is still reeling from the rage, slowing down like a roulette wheel with the little ball clicking over the redblackredblackredblack. My focus shifts outside of myself, and I notice that it’s not dark yet. I see the trees with their leaves pressed up against the sky as if at any moment, someone could pluck them from the ground leaving only their impressions against the clouds. The leaf-stippled sky quiets the guilt I feel for getting so angry over what I’m not sure.

The sound of running water and Ruthie’s heavy footsteps behind me, her voice chirping. It’s bathtime.