By Emilea Huff
A porcelain rooster eyed me from the corner of my room. Mama gave it to me last year for Christmas. She said she found it in a vintage shop and that it reminded her of me, because the label on the bottom said my name in pretty blue ink. I yawned, watching the sheets crease as I wiggled my toes.
I’m wearing Mama’s old nightgown and when I stand up, my head is spinning everywhere. It’s been happening a lot lately. I have to pinch my nose because I think it works so that I don’t throw up everywhere.
I don’t have school today. I don’t ever have school when I feel sick because Auntie says that’s when I need a break from life and fourth grade. I still leave the house, though, because my room smells like laundry detergent and it’s suffocating me.
I crunched a gum wrapper when I stepped on it. Cars zoomed by. I imagined that I was a giant, and every step I took was one enormous block compared to the tiny people beneath me and I felt better. Mama used to tell me that I was small as an ant but strong as an ox.
I see a little green car and now my head is spinning again. We used to have a car like that. Mama had a fluffy keychain.
The grocery store’s little bell tinkled as I entered. Auntie called me over to the counter where I met her every morning. “Hey sweetie, how are you feeling?” she asked me, handing me a bagel. I paused, picking some of the seeds off of the bagel and flinging them into the trash. I know she asked me that because I said I was sick last night, but I really wasn’t. I was thinking about Mama and her face on my pillow and my window and my mirror but that’s because I have part of her inside me. I have her inside me and she’s everywhere and I’m sick, oh no, I’m sick.
“Still sick,” I say, because I don’t want my friends to think I’m weird for crying in the bathroom again, because Mama couldn’t pick me up from school because she was gone, gone.
Sometimes I read things about Mama. She’s in the magazines so much I can’t help but read. One of the pages is taped to my wall, behind my door. I put it there because no one sees it when they open the door. Unless you count the one time Uncle Richie saw it. I still remember the way he looked at me.
He has sad eyes now– eyes that scream he has more to say, but he can’t open his mouth.
I miss Mama. I miss her because she did my laundry extra soft and sometimes put honey in my tea. I wake up in the morning and all I can think of is that rooster crowing, and all I want is Mama’s singing.