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no invitation

We are at a 3 year old's birthday party in the back room of a cafe. Music is pumping from a tiny speaker. Balloon animals are popping, and waving in the air. A man in a yellow dinosaur costume dances wildly. Parents snap pictures with satisfied smiles on their faces.

A little girl approaches gingerly and stands in the doorway, straying from her parents somewhere inside the restaurant. She cannot be more than three. It must be hard to ignore all of the noise coming from this room packed with celebration. There is a perfect little pony tail at the back of her head. She hesitates, as one foot poises in the air and then rests back down. How to understand that she was not invited. How to understand the laughter, the loose jumping bodies, the presents piled high on the window. None of this connects to her. There is a little plate of food waiting for her back there, in the quiet restaurant. Maybe a warm bowl of soup, thick with noodles. I watch her for some time.

That night, her empty e…

the prisoner


I watch her sleeping, as I have on thousands of nights like this. Her hands are loose, lost in some raphaelite pose. A whistle pulls from her nostrils. A window is open, flipping the curtains and the covers are pulled tight around her. At least she has this peace, I tell myself wandering into the kitchen for a nightcap.

Her days are consumed by pens and pencils, drawings of girls having slumber parties on polka dot sheets, of her imaginary version of Central Park where hotdogs are free, of a house in the countryside. We play card games at the kitchen table, shoving the empty plates to one side after lunch. We take walks to buy some fresh trout, or blueberries in the afternoon.

I ask her how it feels to be forced to remain in the city while all of her friends are on the ocean, or in the country with grandparents.
"It is ok." She tells me, her voice small and breaking.
"So you don't feel like a prisoner?" I ask.
She rests her hand on my shoulder.
"No, because I am with you." She explains.
I squeeze her next to me.
"But yes, it makes me sad." She adds, after a moment.




Comments

liv said…
there is simply no way to express the feelings after reading that - no words - no words
Rachael said…
This is beautiful. Utterly freaking beautiful.

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