Mommy, they won't let me play.
She turns her whole body toward him, her shoulders square with his.
Hm, well what did they say?
They just say 'no' whenever I ask. She hears what he says but knows what's under the surface, too.
That must have made you feel really sad. She holds her hand out to him. I'll go back with you and see if we can figure something out.
Our conversation evaporates into wispy clouds that dissipate when she walks through them on her way out of the room. But I'm not thinking about that. I'm thinking about her tone and her choice of words and her patience and her empathy and I'm opening my mouth to catch all those cool flakes on my tongue so I can cough them up at the right moments. But they melt on contact. I don't even get to swallow.
I've been running too hot lately and I know it. I feel it in my mouth.
The mirror is full length. I am in my underwear.
I'm about to take the dress from its hanger (ignoring the price tag for now) but I stop. I let my arms hang at my sides.
I see angles and edges because that's what I am. What I always have been. But there's also a softness to my belly, new but not really. I don't wrinkle my nose or wish it away. It's gentleness, underneath everything, when I don't feel gentle at all.
I wiggle into the dress. It's tight and stripey and somehow highlights both the sharp and the soft and I look wrong all over. Unbalanced.
I buy a hoodie instead. It's red-orange like the sun when it's going down, with thumb-holes so I can slouch the sleeves over my wrists and hide halfway down my palms. I get cold in the summer sometimes, too.
What do you think is the point of life?
Its an abrupt shift in conversation but it doesn't surprise me. This is how we've always talked.
My instant answer is this: survival.
But its more than that. Or I wouldn't.
I gesture to my baby in her arms. My second answer: procreation, of course.
But animals do that, too. That's not enough.
Could it be this? Finding beauty in everything. In the good stuff. And in the rock hard places, too.
I'm driving home. I was out. Alone.
I sit crookedly in the driver's seat, leaning to the right under the weight of a baby not on my shoulder. Hunched forward over a full belly now deflated.
The radio fills the silence and my empty head. But I turn it off the second I see the moon. It hovers low and luminary, humongous and completely impossible. The air feels charged and sacred. It can only hold silence.
When I pull into the driveway, the moon disappears behind the too-big houses down the street. I go inside. It's getting late -- at least for me. Sleep pulls at the corners of my eyes and accelerates the rust grinding deep within my joints.
The night grows longer.
The baby won't settle.
Liquid frustration fills my brain and swims into my eyes. I sit in the rocking chair by the front window. I blink. The moon is higher. Smaller. Somehow even brighter. But tucked behind the half-full branches.
I lean my head back and close my eyes against the darkness of the room and her open eyes. When I open them again the moon is above the trees and I can see its face completely.
It is full.
So am I.