Page 23 - WTP Vol. IX #7
P. 23

 hungry. Christmas breakfast was always pancakes with frozen blueberries. They ate at the dining room table with the good china and silverware. Ada poured a lake of syrup over hers, hoping someone would stop her, but they said nothing.
Later, the grownups went into the kitchen to call relatives, Leonora introduced her new doll to the teddy bear and clown she’d had since she was a baby, and Ada went upstairs to her room and shut the door. She didn’t slam it, she shut it softly, making sure it was closed securely. Part of her wanted the big people to wonder where she was, but another part of her, new and unfamiliar, hoped the big people stayed down in the kitchen, talking on the phone.
It was important the door was shut because she wanted to have a moment to address her private self. She was done with baby Jesus. She was done with the stupid entanglements that made her miserable, including team sports.
Her room had a south facing window and the sun was strong that afternoon. The snow had melted so completely it seemed never to have been there. The electric wires bisecting the sky were ugly, but the sun slanting through her window threw a golden rectan- gle on her wooden floor. She sat down inside it, keep- ing all of her inside the glowing shape, being careful to not let her knees drift out. Then, she gathered herself up, took in a breath, and like the psychologist she would become one day many years in the future, gave herself counsel.
Tell her, go down to the kitchen now and tell her. If you tell her, she’ll say she’s sorry, and give you a big hug. You’ll cry; you’ll feel even worse, and she’ll hug you again. And then she’ll continue to apologize, and for the rest of the day, she’ll be very careful around you. “Ralph,” she’ll say, “we’ve made a horrible mis- take.” And he would suggest that some of the shared presents should be yours alone, but redoing them in front of Leonora would feel nastier than the original mistake. And then, she’ll make sure that your sister isn’t in earshot and tell you why it had happened, that poor Leonora was having a hard year at school and mommy and daddy wanted her to know that she was very loved and very special. You understand, don’t you? And her mother’s eyes would plead. A clever salesman, her mother, her whole body would be pressed into the theatrics of trying to explain.
I know you understand, she’d say, and then, what could you do? It would be impossible to say no.
Say nothing, she advised. Stay in your room and the day will end. The day always will end.
“Ada waited for one of the big people to notice that
she hadn’t received a gift for herself alone, but they were content and happy, traitors to their own righteous views.”
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