TITLE: Counting Change
Two hundred and eighty-eight days after my father left I found my journal. In it all I had written down were numbers. Sixty days since Mama quit smoking. Three days till Thanksgiving. Twenty-five days till Christmas break. Thirteen years till my little sister Katie was old enough to move out. But I couldn’t write about the hole in my heart. Instead I scribbled a large black blob the size of my hand on the center of the first page.
Mama lays a paint chip beside the kitchen cupboard. “Stoney, I want that bedroom of yours clean before school starts on Wednesday. Let’s start fresh and new.”
Mama’s idea of “fresh and new” is to paint everything in sight like she could obliterate the last year with a fresh coat of Sands of Time White. Lately she’s been re-doing the kitchen from Normal Blue to Manic Red.
The paint chip in her hand, Pink Boa, clashes with the red, and makes my eyes ache.
I’ve carried the journal around for two days thinking about what I might write in it. But I’m afraid that whatever I write will make it true. So I draw.
Mama scrapes burnt toast with hard butter and sets it down in front of my sister. Katie waves her hand over the plate trying to make the smell go away, but it spreads like the weeds in my father’s flowerbed, reaching every corner of the kitchen.