March 10, 2013 § Leave a comment
“Mama, we have anything to eat?” “Sure, Punkin, here.” Mama’s arm shot back, the sound of her fingers crackling cellophane as she passed the Krispy Kremes from the front seat to the back. Before my stomach growled, I had been trying to guess license plates, pretending to have a contest with Daddy like we did before he left us. Mama said she talked to him until she was blue in the face trying to make him stay but he didn’t pay her no mind. Not after that manicurist got his attention. But if you ask me, I don’t think Mama’s heart was in it. Otherwise, she could of talked him into staying, even if it was only for a little while.
“Now don’t you be sulking back there young lady.” My mama always said she had eyes in the back of her head and I believed her. “Your sister okay?”
Mary Virginia was up in the rear view window, looking at the stars, tapping her fingernails on the glass, her eyes not an inch away. She moved this way and that, making little huff and puff sounds trying to keep from falling into the back seat. She had grown a foot, Mama said, since our car trip last summer. Still looked little to me. At least little enough to squeeze herself up there in the back window. Before I got too big for it we had to draw straws for who got to sleep there. But not when Daddy was with us.
Before he left us we all – including Mama who was mostly always happy then – jumped out of the car to watch Daddy in the moonlight. He would dig down deep into his pockets, jingle his change and finally bring out the coin that felt just right I guess. He would turn this way and that, making sure we all saw the coin he chose, and then he would toss the coin high in the sky while we held our breaths. The coin caught the flash of moonbeams as it flipped over and over before daddy scooped it out of the sky like it was no more than a firefly. Then with a slap he moved it from his right palm to the back of his left hand. With his big grin he would lean down, his warm face next to ours, and say “What’ll it be for you girls tonight? Heads or tails?” Only then could we take another breath.
After receiving her PhD in 1997, Katherine Horrigan taught as an adjunct English Professor for the University of Houston. Both print and online journals including The Birmingham Arts Journal, The Rusty Nail, and The Prose Poem Project have published her poetry, plays, and short stories. Her poetry has also been published in the 2013 Texas Poetry Calendar and she recently completed Drought, a novel set in South Texas. She may be reached at email@example.com.
Image: Ginkgo Biloba, By Leigh-Anne Fraser