“Mommy, why doesn’t marriage last forever?”
“Mommy, where did daddy go?”
“Mommy, what happened to ‘happily ever after’?”
The little girl combs her barbie’s hair. In short strokes she caresses the painted eyes that stare with an almost gelatin appearance, sparkling with silver markings because one day she decided to be a beautician. And she works through the personally chopped layers of its never growing hair. Dusty blonde and blue eyed. It’s a hot summer night and she sits under the false chandelier rewinding the old tape of Cinderella – her favorite story – so she can re-watch it again. She stares at the blank blue screen, ominous and incandescent with dread.
She had laid on the black couch waiting. What for she forgot, and she fell asleep to the voice recording of a child’s revision for Noah’s Ark. They had come in pairs.
Another night ago she played video games with her mother and sister all night long. It was a long and humid night as is typical of the city. The neighboring apartments blocks the sky, but she never remembered seeing the moon. The concoct of family life – heavy snoring in the next room that is trademark of her father’s, sister and mother battling in aircraft – is soothing. But something brings the little girl to the small elongated kitchen. Standing alone in the dimly lit rectangular space, her child’s feet perspired on the cool tiled floor, she stood and looked at the small opening showing her family. Aglow, it was like an opening to a portable. Somehow, somewhere, she stood with large kitchen scissors in her hands and pressed down on the automatic trash can so the lid opened into an dark inviting mockery. She grabbed a handful of her long black hair and inexplicably chopped it off, remembering precisely how they had resembled the undulating movements of cherry blossoms as they journeyed from their branches. She hadn’t regret it.
In the prescient future she would be sent to a boarding school, with her entire head neatly severed of her long hair. There she cried every night and finally the teachers placed her with her neighboring girl, senior to her by a couple of years. She watched with red rimmed eyes that were gracelessly engorged as she explained the chores – washing their own clothes and mopping the floor. She was the girl that slept with her eyes open.
But then how did it happen that everyone was crying. In the cacophony the little girl joined in in bewilderment. Her mother was crying. Her sister was crying. She was crying. She laid in her mother’s lap and was told not be sad. He was not worth being sad for. He was explaining but it was no use.
It was after the funeral that her mother handed her the photos. Him and other tropical women in their local grass skirts. Why are you trying to make me hate him? It was not until later that she distinguishes, a bad husband does not define one as a terrible father.
“Am I doing anything wrong? Just because I am a widowed woman, it does not deprive me of the innate essence to love another. Do you not want me to be happy?”
But then it is not a hot night, instead a gloomy rainy day where the girl, now slightly grown, perhaps a tad mature lies wistfully in her living room. No longer under the make-believe chandelier but a sturdy old fashioned ceiling fan. Her view of the beyond not obstructed by crowded apartments but a clear expanse of a far away train that sounds ever so often, in its monotone and hoarse cry that is answered by the ensuing rain.
When her mother came home the house was quiet. The single pale lighting of a lamp served as an eerie glow that illuminated no further than it’s primitive diameter. Next to the light, the girl’s laptop was placed precariously on the arm rest of the brown couch.
It kept Cinderella on replay.