The clock struck midnight….Actually it was three-o-clock on a Wednesday afternoon, but I tend to have a flare for the dramatic. I was reorganizing my friends, my beloveds, my taxidermy squirrels that kept watch over my antique glass case that sat perched in my quaint living room – perfect in every way except for a ghastly stain of jasmine tea that I now have hidden under an oriental rug in the corner (oh, how that stain mocks me! Impervious to OxiClean and vinegar!). I set aside time in my busy schedule every week to rotate my babies so that no one stays sitting too long in the direct sunlight streaming from the window, thus tarnishing the color of his (oh, here’s a spot for a pun) acorn-colored fur. This week, it was Freddy’s turn to move closer to the piano, Darla’s turn to take center, and Yoshi’s turn to bask in the sunlight. And oh! How he basked. He was made for the spotlight, his uniquely black fur sparkling like a lake in the moonlight!
What’s this? A visitor! For me? I bustle to the doorway, composing my face before opening the door and greeting my delightfully unexpected guest. I swing the door open, “Hello!” I exclaim. However, I let my judgments take over my curtesy and greeted open air, not realizing that the visitor was barely four foot and required a greeting turned downwards instead. What a faux pas!
“Hello!” I declare again, this time looking down at a school girl (oh, she’s cute as a cupcake!) wearing the sash of honor that all Girl Scouts adorn.
“Hi, Mister. Would you like to buy some cookies?” she asks me, practically pleading with her shining, acorn-colored eyes. Haha! Ah ha! Why they are almost the same eyes as my own babies! And she’s nearly as small too.
“Cookies. Why I’d love to buy some! Food for the soul, that’s what those are. Although, I do prefer a good crumpet or biscuit. Not selling any of those are you my dear?”
“Shame, shame. Let me tell you, nothing beats sharing a crumpet and some tea while reading some good old-fashioned poetry down at the university. Donne, Shakespeare, Whitman…Ever read any Whitman, dear?”
Those precious eyes blink up at me.
“I must say genius! Genius that man was. You know what I can’t figure out though?”
“Mister, do you want to buy some cookies or not?”
“Now my dear, my dear. This is important. It’s important to question life in these ways. You know what it is that I can’t figure out?’
“Mister my mom’s waiting-“
“I can’t figure out why Walt Whitman didn’t name his book Blades of Grass. Grass is described in blades, not leaves. Why, if there were leaves of grass, imagine how difficult of a time we would have managing our lawns! Oh, I shudder at the thought. Then again, maybe it was that image indeed that Whitman was aiming for – one to strike terror in the hearts of men.”
“Okay mister, I’m going to go.” Her tiny feet (and oh how tiny they are. I bet they could scamper away at the slightest bit of a threat, but surely she wouldn’t get as far as a threatened squirrel, who in turn apparently didn’t get very far or else they wouldn’t be my babies, guarding my antique case.
“Oh, please wait!”
“But mister.” Her voice even squeaks like a squirrel! Oh, how good it is to see life behind precious eyes such as that and hear sound coming out. This is indeed better than my babies! Except she can leave me. Just like the others. No. I can’t let her leave me.
“Please, why don’t you come in? I can fix you a snack if you’d like,” I offer. My hand reaches to caress the beautiful brown hair that looks oh so soft on the girl’s head, but she jumps away, and dashes down my porch stairs and back to the street, where a car is humming in wait (for weeks I will despise the vehicle, knowing it to be the carriage that took my precious new friend away, away and out of my grasp forever).
I turn back inside, shutting my door carefully so that the oil pastel portrait of my mother that sits on the wall doesn’t shake. Heaven knows mother herself would have disapproved of ever being disturbed.
For a second, I’m positively overcome with melancholy. Then, I remember the only half-placed state I left my babies in – my children who I know will never go away from me - and scold myself for maltreating them.
“I’m coming my loves, daddy’s coming!”