Page name: Sapphire Stars [Logged in view] [RSS]
2009-12-01 06:10:58
Last author: kamisch
Owner: kamisch
# of watchers: 2
Fans: 0
D20: 4
Bookmark and Share

Sapphire Stars

  Life starts off dark, black- life is scary. Then, the whiteness comes- bright, painful whiteness. It’s easy to adjust to the pain though, and then life becomes beautiful. There are beautiful people in it who love and care about you. Those who can’t adjust to the bright white and the pain never get to see the beautiful people, they are dark people, blurry people without faces. Sapphire adjusts well to almost everything; she loves beauty, beautiful people, and life. Life is beautiful. Mother is beautiful; she sings sweet lullabies to help you fall asleep. Everyone loves Mother- they just can’t help it.

Hush my sweet, hush sweet child-
Let your dear mother soothe you.
Mother is here to help your dreams glide in,
Mother is hear to help your fears glow dim:
Sweet dreams and star shine
For Mother’s sweet child.

  When you are bad, it’s not Mother that punishes you, that’s Father’s job. It’s for Mr. Brodax and only Mr. Brodax to do. If anyone else besides Father punishes you, then Father punishes them. Father has beauty too, it’s a man’s beauty, but it’s still beautiful. He doesn’t sing like Mother, but he does hum her tune.
Your stomach growls when you’re hungry. It makes a horrible noise and hurts you until it gets stuffed. Mother feeds Sapphire when she’s hungry, that way her stomach doesn’t attack her, and she’s not hungry.

“You shouldn’t feed her so much Judy, she’ll end up a porker!”
“She’s fine, she’s just a growing girl! This little baby will never be a porker.”

  That’s as far as Sapphire’s parents ever got in their arguments. They’d just go on after that being really quiet, glaring at each other. Eventually, one would make the other laugh. Then Sapphire would laugh too, and then they’d coo her for being too little to understand what they were laughing about. She was innocent, and they loved her for that.

“Laugh at all the things you don’t understand, laugh my sweet, innocent girl, and we’ll laugh with you.”

  Music is something that beautiful people make so that the poor people that never adjusted to the white light have something to live for. They can’t see beauty, so they must hear it. Beautiful music always filled the Brodax house. Sapphire listened to it, but couldn’t understand it.

“You like it Saphie? It’s an Italian opera, you like it? Look dear, she likes it!”
“Well I knew she would. Yes, my little sweetie, of course you like Italian operas.”
Sapphire just smiled and giggled. Italian is good, its music.

  The green light goes bleep. Bleep…bleep…bleep. It moves up and down and looks like the mountains in Meme’s National Geographic. Bleep…bleep…bleep. There’s a bag on the big metal pole that moves up and down, hissing as it does. Hisssssk, husssshhhhhk…hisssssk, husssshhhhhk. Sapphire looked at Mother, she was sleeping. As the bag would rise, her stomach would fall. Maybe it was Mother making the hisk-hushk sound, and not the bag. It’s hard to tell.
Father had told Sapphire not to bother Mother, and she tried hard to obey, but now she was bored. She wanted to hear her mother’s beautiful voice sing those beautiful melodies that had always helped her have beautiful dreams, with beautiful people in them. She knew the songs. She knew her mother was sleeping. She decided to sing the beautiful songs to her, to help her have beautiful dreams.

Hush my sweet, hush sweet child-
Let your dear daughter soothe you.
Saphie is here to help you dreams glide in,
Saphie is here to help your fears glow dim:
Sweet dreams and star shine
For my sweet child.

Mother could hear her. She looked at Saphie. There were tears in her eyes. Saphie thought she’d done something wrong, so she apologized.

“It’s o.k. Saphie, don’t apologize. You didn’t do anything wrong. Mommy loves you Saphie. You know that don’t you? Mommy will always love you, no matter what.”

 Saphie shook her head yes. She knew her mother loved her, she was told that by her everyday. Usually she told her more than once a day. Lately she’d been telling her just about every time the big hand on the clock stood straight up. She’d look at Saphie, smile and say, “Hey Saphie, I love you!” and then she’d start to cry. Saphie never knew why she cried- it made her feel bad. It all started after Mother collapsed while carrying Saphie up the stairs. She hit her head on the railing, then curled up like a cat and cried until Father came home and the white coats carried Mother away. Why did Mother fall? Saphie’s never known her to fall while going up the stairs. She’d never seen her fall at all. Maybe Father was right, all those times he’d teased Mother about over-feeding her; maybe Saphie’d gotten really fat because she ate too much, and now she was too big for Mother to carry. That’s what she thought, but it wasn’t right. She never did get fat, Mother was right about that. No one ever told her why Mother fell.

“I’m glad you know I love you, and I always will Saphie, don’t forget I will always love you. Now, Mommy might be going away for a little while Saphie, but it’s not because I don’t love you. I have to go when it’s my turn.” Mother started crying even more. Bleep…bleep…bleep. Hisssssk, husssshhhhhk…hisssssk, husssshhhhhk. Saphie didn’t know what she was talking about. Where was Mother going? Why didn’t she have a choice? She’d always been told that you have a choice about whatever you do, no matter what. You can obey others, or you cannot obey them. You can be pressured into doing something, or you can pressure others into agreeing with you. Mother had always made her own decisions. Who was changing her mind now? Bleep…bleep…bleep.

“Give your mother a hug Saphie, I love you sweetie.”

  Saphie gave her a hug, not because she had to, but because she wanted to. She loved hugging her mother. What Mother had said really confused her. Then, the green light started making smaller mountains, faster mountains. Ble-ble-ble-ble-ble…A bunch of people ran in and took Saphie away from Mother. She couldn’t see her anymore; a big blue wall was in her way. All the people had turned into a big blue wall. Ble-ble-ble-ble-ble…There was a big commotion, and then nothing. Silence. The mountains were gone. The green light was still. The bag was quiet. Mother was quiet. Father appeared out of the midst of the blue wall. He walked toward Saphie, picked her up, and took her to Mother.

“Give your mom a kiss Saphie, and tell her goodnight, she was very tired.”
Saphie kissed her mother’s forehead, like Mother had always done to her, and said goodnight.

Hush my sweet, hush sweet child-
Let your dear daughter soothe you.
Saphie is here to help your dreams glide in,
Saphie is here to help your fears glow dim:
Sweet dreams and star shine
For my sweet child.

Goodnight Mother, goodnight Mother love,
I’ll see you in the morning with skies of blue.
Saphie will awake beside you just to watch you grin,
Father will awake beside you because you love him:
Goodnight eyes ‘till tomorrow
For my Mother love.

 Saphie was proud of herself; she’d made up a second verse to her Mother’s song. That means she knew the song really well. It was Mother’s song for her, Sapphire’s favorite.


Mother never woke up, and that got Saphie mad. Her mother had lied to her, which was bad. Father never took her back to the room with all the blue people, and never talked about Mother. They were staying at Meme’s house. Meme lived with Pepe. They were nice- Saphie loved them. Uncle Thomas lived with them. He was younger than Father, Meme and Pepe were his parents, just like Mother and Father were Saphie’s.

“Hey Dad, when you gonna get me a car?”
“When you get a job.”
“Aw, come on Dad! I can’t get a job, I need to spend time with my friends, that’s why I need a car!”
“No job, no car. I never got a car until I was almost thirty. You can wait.”
“Tommy, why not just get a job? What’s so hard about that?”
“But Mom I…”

Mom? Why was he calling Meme Mom? That’s not her name. Saphie wondered whether she should point out his mistake. Mother had told her that sometimes it’s good to help people when they make a mistake. Sometimes it’s also rude. Would this be rude or nice?

“What’dya think Erich?”
Mr. Brodax put down his drink and looked up at Pepe, “About what?”
“Jesus Christ! Don’t you ever pay attention to family discussions!? We’re talking about responsibility, commitment, and all those damn adolescent punks running around the world!”
“Hmm…sounds like an interesting combination.”
“It’s just about me getting a car.”
“Why don’t you have one?”
“Because he doesn’t have a job!”
“Schnah! It’s because I can’t find a place where I’m willing to work.”
“Because he’s a lazy punk!”
“I can offer you a job at the hospital, nothing big bu-”
“What!? Work with all those sickly, dying people? I dunno…”
“No. You wouldn’t be with them; we’re not looking for any doctors or nurses. We need janitors and secretaries, people to keep us going smoothly, things like that.”
“A mess job?”
“Those ‘mess jobs’ are what keep the hospital rolling.”
“Well, what’d you think Mom?” There he goes with the “Mom” thing again. Why’s he doing that? He should definitely be told about his mistake, before he embarrasses himself.
“Her name’s not Mom, it’s Meme.” Oh no, everyone’s quiet and looking at her. Maybe that was a rude mistake to fix. Maybe she was wrong and Meme’s name really was Mom. But then, how come she answers to Meme? Father would be mad at her for being rude, for being bad. Saphie felt tears forming in her little gray eyes. No crying, you cry only when you’re really sad, or really happy. That’s very confusing, to cry for two different reasons. The pressure of the eyes was painful. Saphie looked down at her shoes. It seemed like time had stopped, all those eyes were crowding around her in disgust. There was a hand on her shoulder. It was Meme’s hand, she was smiling. Everyone was smiling.

“It’s o.k. Hun, you can call me Meme, but your uncle calls me Mom. Neither is my real name.”
“So…well, what is your real name, Me-mom?”
“Do you really want to know?”
“Good, ‘cause I rather like the way it sounds when you call me Meme. Now come give your Meme a kiss.”
“Mother used to call me Sweetie.”
“That’s because she loved you Sweet Love.”

Saphie and her father ended up staying at Meme’s for a while. Saphie didn’t mind though, she loved Meme. Meme’s hair is red and curly. Father’s hair is yellow. If you were to combine the two colors, they’d make orange. That’s the color of the fat cat that lived in the house. Saphie liked to take the fat cat outside and help him chase birds. One day the fat cat actually caught a bird. Saphie tried to get it away, but the fat cat growled and ran off. The bird screamed its little bird scream, it was loud. Screeeeeatchuwaaa, screeatchaaaaaaaw…squirrrriiiiiittch…stweeee…No more noise. Saphie cried. It was o.k. to cry because she knew she was sad. The bird was dead, she knew this. Her mom was dead, she’d found that out. She ran back into the house, tears racing along her cheeks, her nose, wiped up onto her forehead. Meme was inside.

“What’s wrong Love?”
“Fatty tat atea birwd!”
“Well that’s natural Saphie, cats eat birds.”
“He kiwed it. It scweamed an’ then it was quiet ecus he kiwed it!”
“Calm down now, Love, it’s o.k. Cats eat birds, it’s-”
“Bud I haylped ‘im do it, it’s aw my fawlt!”
“No Dear, you didn’t do anything wrong. Most cats eat birds. Even if you weren’t…helping, he still would’ve caught one eventually.”
“I’m notta bad goyal?”
“No, you’re a wonderful little girl, a sweet angel.”

Meme gave her a hug and a kiss and they went out to have ice cream. Saphie liked vanilla ice cream with rainbow sprinkles. She always got it in a cone so that there was extra stuff to eat. It also saved her from having to look for a trash can to throw anything away. Meme got the green ice cream. Saphie never had any, so she didn’t know what kind it was. She didn’t trust green ice cream.

“You wanna try some Saphie?”
“Naw, it’s too gween.”

Grass is green. The grass in the dark shadows is brown. This is because it doesn’t get very much sunlight. It’s dead grass, like the bird that the fat cat ate, like Mom. The leaves in the trees are also green, except for in the fall and winter, then they’re brown, yellow and orange. Up north some of them turn purple and red, that’s a very queer thing. Meme’s orchids are purple, but they don’t have purple leaves. Their leaves are green like the grass, the trees, and the ice cream. Green is the color of life, like white. Brown is the color of dead things. Was Mother brown when she died?

Saphie liked to be at school. Teachers are very nice and help you learn things. The letters of the alphabet help make words. Words help make sentences. You speak sentences when you talk. Letters are very useful. She’s younger than everyone else at school. Father believed she was ready for school, Meme believed she was ready for school, Saphie knew she was ready for school. Only the school didn’t think she was ready to go there, she was too young. Instead, she goes to a school where she wears a dress. The yellow dress looks best, it has frillies. There’s a playground in the back where you can go and swing and climb and slide. You have to be careful on the slide after it rains, it gets slippery and there’s a mud puddle at the bottom that you’ll fall into. Mud gets your dress dirty, which makes the teachers mad. Father gets mad too. He says young ladies shouldn’t go getting their dresses dirty. Meme told Father to be calm and think a little, little girls like to play just as much as little boys, and like them, they get their dresses dirty. Saphie thought of the little boys at the school all wearing dresses, it made her laugh. Saphie loves her Meme, she’s beautiful.

I pledge allegiance to the flag
Of the United States of America…

That’s what Saphie was, she was an American. Americans talk to the flag because the flag protects them and gives them freedom. So, they pledge their allegiance to it. Saphie wanted to pledge all her allegiance to it. She loved being an American, everyone loves you and you can rule the world. Americans are smart and have lots of money. That’s what everyone always told her. Americans are the best the world has to offer.

Saphie doesn’t go to that little place with the playground anymore, now she goes to a real school. She’s not the youngest anymore either, she’s the oldest in her class. There are other kids older than her in other classes, but she doesn’t talk to them. She wishes she could talk to them though, the kids in her class are boring, and they don’t know much. They’re just now learning about letters- Saphie already knows her letters, her entire A, B, C’s.

A is for Ant.
B is for Bird.
C is for Cat.

  Outside there is a little bird. He looks like the bird Tigger ate. Maybe it’s the same one. If Tigger killed it and it still lived, then that meant her mother was still alive as well. Saphie got really excited about that.

“Sapphire. Sapphire…Sapphire!”

 It was such a pretty bird, so red and beautiful. It had color, and color was life. Such a pretty red, red like Mrs. Watson’s face when she gets angry.


  Saphie looked up. Mrs. Watson’s face was red. It wasn’t a pretty red like the angel-bird outside, it was an ugly red. Saphie was scared. What did she do? What was Mrs. Watson looking at her for? She thought of how Father always looked at her when she’d done something wrong. It must’ve been a question, she asked a question. What was the question? If she answered it, she’d sound stupid because she didn’t know what question to answer; not answering would make her sound just as stupid. She didn’t like looking stupid, stupid people were ugly, like the red in Mrs. Watson’s face, and like everyone else in the room now.

“Well Sapphire?”
What was the question, Mrs. Watson? I wasn’t paying attention.
“I dunno.”
“You don’t know how you get to and from school?”
“Wait, yes I do!”
“Well dear, how ‘bout you tell me so I can write it down in the attendance book?”
“Oh, sorry. Meme gives me a ride.”
“And Meme is a family member or friend?”
“And how are you related?”
“She’s my Uncle Tommy’s mom.”
“So she’s your grandmother?”
“No. She’s my Meme.”
“O.K. Carlton?”
“I ride the bus.”

  Saphie felt really stupid now. Why did Mrs. Watson say Meme was her grandmother? Grandmothers always look old, Meme didn’t look that old. How old was she? Older than Father, but how much older? Mrs. Watson was stupid anyway. Her first name was Wilma. Saphie found that out from Chrissy, a girl in fourth grade. She liked Saphie because she said she wasn’t like most little kids, she was fun. She also told Saphie about the poor people in other countries that had to drink their own pee. Those poor people. Saphie wished she could go over to them and give them all a huge pool of water and tea and juice. Saphie loved her tea. It was better than soda because it didn’t burn your throat. Meme drinks tea too, but she never give Saphie any of the tea from her glass.

“This is Meme’s special glass Saphie, and her special tea. Nobody else drinks from it dear.”

  Saphie’s special glass was blue with little fish on it. She never let anyone drink from it, not even Father. Father didn’t drink tea like Saphie anyway, he didn’t like sugar in it. Father had a separate jug that he kept sugarless tea in. Saphie didn’t like it, it was too bitter. She’d take her glass of sweetened tea and sit on the bit orange-red couch in the living room where Meme watched Matlock. Saphie just pretended to watch because she didn’t want to bother Meme. She would watch the old guy’s white hair. She found it astounding- he had white hair! She didn’t know anybody with white hair. Maybe it’s just a thing that movie stars get. When he would get mad, his white hair would really stand out because his face turned bright red, like Mrs. Watson’s, and it would bob up and down along the aisles of people. Usually, Saphie was asleep before the show was over and either Meme or Pepe would carry her to bed.

  When you pet a hamster really hard, its eyes bug out. They have weird black eyes. Paula’s eyes bugged out really far when you pet her hard on the head, or even on the back. Saphie got her from Mrs. B, which was her friend Chris’ teacher. Her room was next to Mrs. Watson’s. Mrs. B was very nice, and very old. She had two hamsters in her room, and one had babies. She called Saphie’s dad at work and asked if it was o.k. for her to have one of the babies. Saphie had helped Mrs. B round up the hamsters when they got out, she deserved one of her own. Father said no, but it didn’t matter, because they called Meme too and she said yes. Saphie named the hamster Paula after Paula Abdule, she sang on TV., and danced. Saphie sang her songs to her stuffed animals.

  Another school was just built. Saphie is one of the kids that get to go there. They will be the first ones there. Her class took a field trip to the school before it opened. They were asked to vote on the school mascot and the school colors. There were three choices for each. You could pick a manatee, a panther, or an alligator. Saphie chose a panther, she liked cats and panthers were just great big cats. She read that in her big book of cats that Pepe got her, she just loved cats. The colors were teal and black, blue and gold, or green and orange. She chose blue and gold, they were nice colors. They ended up picking teal and black panthers. Saphie was O.K. with that. Chrissy wouldn’t be going to the new school because she was going into sixth grade, which was another school, but not a new one. In fact, it was very old. She told Saphie that the principle at the new school was very mean, he beat the bad kids and made them hang out in the dark room. Saphie was afraid, she didn’t want to leave her nice little school with its nice stupid people that don’t hurt you. At the end of the trip, Mrs. Clear took her students on a tour of the school. She was very interested in it because she wasn’t going to have to go to it. She was staying at the old school. Mrs. Clear’s short, fat, brown body hurried up and down all the halls, looking into the classrooms to see how big they were. Saphie couldn’t help but laugh at a little boy’s impersonation of their teacher. He puffed his cheeks out and waddled around with his arms held out like an ape’s. Saphie knew it was wrong to laugh with him about their nice little teacher, but she couldn’t help it.

“Now let’s see if you’ve been paying attention!” Mrs. Ungar, the music teacher, played her piano to the tune of “These are a Few of My Favorite Things.” She wasn’t very good at it, but that didn’t matter because she was old and wore many beads around her neck. Actually, if you look carefully, you’ll find that it’s really just one long necklace wrapped around her neck a few times. They were plastic and always matched whatever she was wearing.

“Rain drops on roses and whiskers on kittens
La da da da da and warm woolen mittens
“No! No! No! You guys don’t know anything you little whippersnappers! Pay attention!”

  Mrs. Ungar was banging her piano and shaking her head. Saphie thought she might collapse right in front of the whole class. Then her ugly beads would fly over her face like snakes and the boys would be able to see her underwear. That would be shameful, boys weren’t supposed to see a lady’s underwear, but that’s what would happen if Mrs. Ungar fell down right now. She was too old to be teaching. Gees, she’s ancient. Chrissy told Saphie that her husband killed himself a little while ago because he didn’t want to look as old as her. She pictured a man not quite as old as Mrs. Ungar going into the closet, and hanging himself from a coat hanger. That’s how they did it on TV. Saphie didn’t understand how anyone could do that. How can you take your own life away? Wouldn’t it hurt? Mrs. Ungar never fell down. She stamped her feet and tried again to teach everyone how to sing. That was one of her last days at the school. Mrs. Clear said it’s because she retired. Chrissy says that’s not true. She says Mrs. Ungar died like her husband. She got sick and died, only she didn’t wait for her illness to kill her. The doctors said it was an incurable illness, so she killed herself. Saphie felt bad for wishing she would’ve fallen down in class so many times. It’s not nice to wish harm upon others, Meme had always told her that.

“It’s not nice to wish harm upon anyone Saphie, no matter how much you think you don’t like them.”

  The new school’s not as bad as Saphie thought it would be. She hasn’t heard any reports of Principal Muntz torturing anyone. She brought her dinosaur map to school to share with the class, she’d gotten it out of one of Meme’s National Geographics. Everyone loved it. Mrs. Wart asked if they could hang it in the classroom for when they learn about the dinosaurs. Saphie said yes of course. Another time, she brought Paula to school, but she had to use her other hamster, Butterscotch’s, cage because Paula’s wasn’t portable. She’ll just have to explain to everyone why there’s another name on the cage. Everyone loved Paula, she’s so nice and beautiful and never bites anyone like most hamsters. Mrs. Wart suggested they make Paula the class pet, but Saphie said no, she had to go back home after a while. She only stayed for the week.

   Meme hasn’t been feeling well lately, so Saphie’s been taking the bus. She didn’t like the bus, the people on it are loud and stupid. They threw things around and made fun of people. You’re not allowed to eat on the bus, so Saphie had to make sure she finished breakfast and had her tea before she left for school- she didn’t like that, it meant she had to wake up earlier. Walk to the bank, wait. Get on the bus, wait. Stop at all the stops, wait. So very boring. Get to the train tracks, wait. One time Chris’ dog followed him to the bus stop and started chasing an armadillo in the parking lot. All the kids cheered him on and tried helping him catch it. Saphie helped, but she didn’t like it. She remembered helping Tigger catch the bird. Saphie stopped and cried, then started chasing the dog.

“Leave the poor little guy alone, you mangy mutt!”
“Hey, don’t talk to Shadow that way!”
“You better not let him catch that armadiller, or you’ll be sorry!”
“Oh yeah, like I’m gonna be afraid of a scrawny little girl. Catch ‘im Shadow!”

Saphie lunged at Chris. She had tears all down her face- warm, wet, comforting tears ran down her cheeks. She hit Chris in the face, pushed him down and bit his arm- she didn’t know what she was doing. Chris was her friend, why was she hurting him? She couldn’t control herself, just like she couldn’t control her laughing at the little boy’s impersonation of Mrs. Clear. Her knees sunk down into his chest, he was pinned. She’d caught him by surprise and now he just didn’t know how to react. Shadow was barking at her, confused. She looked up and noticed that the armadillo was gone, everyone was watching her. She stopped and looked at Chris.

I’m sorry Chris, I don’t know what came over me.
“Not afraid of a girl, huh?”
“ Get off me Saphie!”
“Say you’re sorry.”
“What’re you nuts? You crazy freak, you say you’re sorry!”
I’m sorry Chris, I told you that already. I am sorry.
“Bite me you little twerp!”

  The bus came. Everyone got on. Saphie wiped the snot and tears off her face, Chris wiped the blood and tears off of his. Ride, wait. Stop at the stop, wait. Another wonderful day on the bus. Saphie stared out the window and fell asleep. She awoke to a head full of spitballs and a bus full of laughter. Why did everyone else care about what she did to Chris? It was none of their business, it was just between her and Chris. She was on a bus full of stupid people who all went to her stupid school and didn’t learn anything.

  That was a week ago. Now it was another day on the bus. Bank, stop. Road, stop. Go. Stop. Train tracks. Stop. Father. Stop. Death to Father. Go. Cry tears for Father, your father is dead- you killed him. Stop. What will you do now? Go. Why cry for Father, he’s not dead. Stop. Who’s dead? Mother. Go. Turn the corner, stop. Wait. Mother died a while ago, why cry now? Wait. Father will die. Go. He’s not dead yet. He will be. Stop. Meme’s sick. Go. There’s the school. Math is boring, numbers are not any fun. It’s raining, how nice, like being cleansed. The grass will be green now, very alive. Rain makes life very green.

“Sapphire, there’s a message here for you.”
“It says you need to go down to the principal’s office, it’s marked ASAP. Katie, will you walk her down? Make sure you remember to come back Katie.”
“Yes Mrs. Wart.”
“Wait, what kind of emergency Mrs. Wart?”
“You’ll have to find out Hun.”

  What could possibly be the emergency? Why couldn’t they tell her what was going on while she was in class? Principal Muntz locks the bad kids in the dark room. What had she done wrong lately? Oh no, the fight, she had a fight a week ago, now she’d be punished. Father’s here, why’s Father here? What did she do now? Tears, Father has tears. What’s wrong with Father? The sight of his tears made Saphie cry. Why cry, what’s wrong?

“What’s wrong Daddy?”

Father didn’t answer, he looked away. Principal Muntz gave him a Kleenex. It was a pastel blue one, it looked so soft and comforting. He gave one to Saphie too- it was soft, quilted.

“You’re going home for the day Sapphire.”
“Your father will tell you.”

Mr. Brodax picked Saphie up and gave her a giant bear hug, tears still on his cheek. Saphie could feel those tears, they were warm and wet like her own. He said goodbye to Principal Muntz and together they left. Father held Saphie close, all the way to the car.

“I’ve some bad news for you Saphie, do you think you’re ready for it?”
“Yeah Daddy, what’s wrong?”
Father will die. He’s not dead yet. He will be. Meme’s sick.
“It’s about Meme.”
Meme’s sick.
“What about her Daddy?” She could feel the tears choking her, any minute she’d be overflowed. She started chewing on her tongue in anticipation.
“She’s, she…she passed away this morning.”

  Saphie felt her eyes swell. Her tongue bled because she’d been biting it too hard. Meme’s dead. Mother’s dead. The little red bird is dead. Beautiful things die, the things you love die- Father will die. Her head started to hurt. Why did she keep thinking of Father dying? He didn’t die, Meme did. Why do people die? Turn the corner, pass the train tracks, dirt road. Stop. It’s raining, but it doesn’t matter hoe green the grass is now, it’s bound to die. It will be alive and green, and then it will die and turn brown. Saphie ran into the house and sat and watched Matlock with Meme. She didn’t like the show, but Meme did, and she liked being with Meme. She loved Meme, Meme was her new Mom. She was Mom to Uncle Tommy, she could be to Saphie too.

“How was school today Saphie? Did you learn anything new?”
“Nah, not really.”
“Nonsense, you learn something new everyday. What are some things you learned today?”

A butterfly flew into the strawberry field and turned into a dragon- large and red, scaly. It was a big dragon, and it burned the strawberry field. Saphie loved strawberries, she used to pick them with Meme- that was her field. Nice big, red strawberries- eat them with whipped cream.

…Come here Lover Boy!
And if he still doesn’t answer?
I simply say:
Baby, oh-oh baby, my sweet baby, you’re the one…

   Saphie sang that song with Meme, it was their song. They would perform it in front of Pepe when he got home from work. He would clap and laugh and say they were wonderful. Pepe loved Meme because she was beautiful, Saphie loved Meme too. She loved Pepe, Pepe was not dead. He would die, everything dies. Saphie thought of Pepe dying and cried even more. She sang for Meme and Pepe, she sang for Mother. Mother died, Mother used to sing to her- she missed Mother.

Hush my sweet, hush sweet child-
Let your dear mother soothe you.
Mother is here to help your dreams glide in,
Mother is hear to help your fears glow dim:
Sweet dreams and star shine
For Mother’s sweet child.

“Wake up Honey, time to go inside.”

  Saphie’s eyes were half closed and her head was still heavy, “Is Meme still dead?”
“Yes Sweetie, she’s still gone. She won’t be coming back.”
  Father carried her inside and let her sleep on the big red-orange couch. Meme was gone, and she would not be back. She didn’t have a choice, just like Mother didn’t have a choice. She saw herself as dead, all alone in a cold dark hole. Then she saw Mother, she was holding the red bird.


“Follow me my sweet child, come home to my kingdom in the clouds.”
“I’m scared Mother.”
“There’s nothing to be afraid of, I’ll be with you. Meme’s inside, come child, come.”

     Saphie was very afraid, but Mother would not lie to her, Mother would never hurt her. Mother was beautiful and loved her. She’d be safe, follow Mother. There’s a beautiful gate, there’s beautiful clouds all around. Saphie held a handful of the beautiful clouds- soft, beautiful white clouds. It was lovely. There was blood on the gate, fresh blood.

“What’s the blood from Mother?”
“Who died Mother?”
“You did Sweetie.”
“No, I’m not dead, I was just visiting you.”
“You can’t get here unless you die.”

   Dead. Saphie was dead. She didn’t want to be dead. Everyone dies, who cares if it’s now or later, you still die. Mother’s white dress turned red, a deep, dark, wine-red. Saphie walked on. Mother no longer had the bird, it was on the ground- dead again. Things can’t die twice? The bird was never alive, Mother was dead. Why was she following Mother? She was dead. Turn around, go home, Father’s waiting for you. There’s a coffin, a beautiful white coffin with gold trim. Mother was gone, Saphie opened the coffin. There was sand inside- fine, gray, dry sand. The bird was inside too. He had moved from the ground to the coffin without her even noticing. Then the bird’s red wings turned black, his beak grew long and sharp. Its beady eyes glared at Saphie. Skreeeaooowichoooie! It flew up in a flurry of night and pecked Saphie in the face. Skritchawyafaawlt! Did it just say what she thought it said? Awyafaawlt! Yes, yes it did! It said it was all her fault! It knew. It knew she helped Tigger catch it, now it would kill her. Look at your shoes and it won’t see you, just look at your shoes- nice black, shiny shoes. Look at them. Don’t look up or you’ll die, look at the shoes. Meme bought her those shoes to go to church in. Saphie was in church now. Meme was in the coffin, not sand. There were no birds about, just Meme- dead. She was in there all alone, no one to comfort her. The big black bird would scare her too, but it wouldn’t be able to kill her- she was already dead. Don’t look at the coffin, you’ll cry. Look at your shoes, keep your eyes on your shoes. Remember, Meme bought them for you, they’re her shoes too. Keep an eye on them, don’t let the big black bird get them. It’s time to go now. Everyone loves Meme, she was beautiful. She was not a grandmother, she was better than that- she was Meme, red haired and true. Saphie looked at the coffin one more time. The tears flew up into her eyes, she couldn’t control them- she didn’t try to. She just stood staring at it, brown and clean- shiny like her shoes. It was open. Father took her by the hand.

“Time to go now Saphie, time to go home.”
I want to look in the coffin Daddy. Please let me look, I want to say goodbye.

   Saphie followed Father out the door, she’d never see Meme again. She never saw Mother again, why would she see Meme? Maybe it was all a trick. Meme wasn’t really dead, she was at home waiting to surprise her when she got there. No, she was in the coffin, but she was not dead. Saphie looked back at the coffin, all alone in the church, open, calling for her.

Please Daddy, let me go see Meme in the coffin. I want to sing her our song and tell her I love her, and I’ll miss her. Please, let’s go back Daddy, please.

   They got in the car and drove home. Saphie looked out the back window at the church. She never wanted to leave, she wanted to stay there forever. Father remained quiet, he still had wet eyes, but he wasn’t crying anymore. He stared at the road, never even turning on the radio. Saphie sat back in her seat and looked out the window. She looked out and remembered the space shuttle that had exploded not long ago. She was with Meme then, they were outside most of the day. Meme knew the lady inside, she cried when it exploded, everyone on board died. Meme’s friend from up north died. Saphie pictured it back in the sky again, only this time it didn’t explode, it kept going on and on, until she couldn’t see it anymore. Meme was on that shuttle, and her friend, that’s why it didn’t bother exploding- you can only die once. Meme went up into the clouds, beyond the realm of the big black bird, up into the stars. She was gone. Saphie smiled, but she couldn’t understand why. Meme was in the stars where the ugly bird couldn’t get her. There were pretty birds in the stars that weren’t mean, they would help her. Saphie smiled again, Meme was safe.

Baby, oh-oh baby, my sweet baby, you’re the one…

Username (or number or email):


Show these comments on your site

Elftown - Wiki, forums, community and friendship. Sister-site to Elfwood