G a i l
2 years, 7 months (April)
I’m now used to Mama disappearing. I don’t cry and scream anymore; the mad-dog inside doesn’t even raise its head. These days, when she isn’t there, I calmly ask, “Mama?” I say her name like I’m asking a question to the air, wind, sky, the walls, the kitchen table. I ask a few times. Usually, she doesn’t appear when I ask for her. The mad-dog is quiet. But there’s a hole inside. And it feels like being hungry.
I love to run. My legs can carry me everywhere I want to go. Sometimes I feel Dada or Mama running after me. That’s when it gets really fun. I imagine that I’m Jewel, the cat from next door, racing through the grass. Whoever’s behind me makes noises and says, “Gail!” and that makes me run faster. I can’t stop giggling. Sometimes I giggle so hard I fall over, and Dada or Mama grab me and swing me up in the air!
Jojo runs after me sometimes, too. He’s five and a lot bigger than me, but I can get away from him. If he gets close to catching me, I make myself small and crawl under things. He tries to get me, but he can’t! Jojo’s always kind. He never gets mad at me, even though I do a lot wrong. He plays with me and hugs me and sometimes pets me on the head, like I’m Jewel.
I could watch Mama forever. I love her pink dress that flutters. I love the sun shining on her hair and her hand when it holds mine. And her eyes when she looks at me. I also love the twinkly things on her ears and around her neck. The best is when she smiles at me. I look at her a lot, and I know everything about her. Everything, except one thing. I don’t know why she goes away sometimes. But I believe that if I just keep watching her, she will stay with me forever.
Dada is big and strong. We love to laugh together. Usually Jojo joins in, and sometimes Mama, too. He lifts me up off the ground and swings me through the air. It’s scary, but I love it. Dada cooks for us. When the sun starts to sink down in the sky, he goes to the kitchen and stands by the stove. He sometimes lets Jojo and me help. We stand on our chairs and stir whatever is in the pot, and it always smells good. Once, when he didn’t notice, I took Dada’s kitchen knife in my hand. I’d watched him cut things before, and I decided to do it too, because it looked like so much fun. I saw an egg lying nearby, and I grabbed it. I remembered how Dada used his knife, and I carefully took the egg in one hand and the knife in the other. I slowly started moving the knife back and forth, and suddenly the outside of the egg cracked open, and out poured slimy yellow goo! It went dribbling all over the kitchen counter and down onto the floor. I tried to stop it with one hand, but Jojo said, “No Gail!” I started to cry quietly, and still with the big knife in my slimy hand, I stepped down from the stool. In a flash, Dada was there, and he looked scared, as he took the knife from me and put it on the counter. He got down on his knees and grabbed my hands, turning them over and over and looking at them. Then his eyes searched my face.
He said, “Gail!” And his voice was loud. I wasn’t crying anymore and just stared at him. But then, he smiled… and then laughed! Jojo was standing beside him, watching everything with big eyes, but he started to laugh too. I was the only one who wasn’t laughing. But Dada put his big rough hand on my cheek, and I knew everything was ok again.
At night, I dream of Jewel. I imagine her running through the grass, and I picture myself running with her. I wish I could have a Jewel of my own.