Today she had a done a bad thing. She knew she wasn’t supposed to open the door but her father was calling to her from the other side, cajoling her into acquiescence. “Come on, sweetheart, open the door for daddy.” Her mother shouting from behind her, “Don’t you do it! Don’t you open that door!”
She stood in the middle. Turning both ways, conflicted, afraid, overwhelmed. She couldn’t take it anymore, the pleading, the yelling… it was too much. So against her mother’s wishes she had opened the door, and then flew out of it, away from her mother, right past her father. Running. Running. Out of the house, around the block, until finally, panting, she rested against a tree. She took a few deep breaths, lingered a bit to pick at the bark of the tree and then walked slowly back to the house. Where else was there to go, really.
When she returned, her parents were sitting there in the yellow kitchen, waiting. “I’m sorry ‘bout that, doll-face.” said her father, tussling her hair and grinning sheepishly.
Her mother knelt before her, grabbing her arms with her hands, “I shouldn’t have done that to you. It’s okay that you opened the door. I’m not mad.” Her mom gave a comforting little smile, “Okay?”
She shrugged. She could take it. She could take it all. It was no big deal. “Sure. Okay.”
Her parents exchanged a strained glance, and sent her off to play in her room.
She sat there now on her bed with Puppy, her favorite stuffed animal since she was a baby, and “A Wrinkle in Time,” one of her favorite books, semi-listening to the angry voices billowing up the stairs. The voices were loud and full of hurtful accusations. At 10 years-old, she was well aware her parents were divorcing, but it didn’t make her cry or anything. In fact, unless the fighting was particularly hateful, she could block it out completely.
Years later, her grandmother would relate a story about how she walked into the enraged house to find the little girl coloring a picture on the floor, her parent’s screaming all around. The grandmother bent down and asked, “What’s all that fighting about, pussycat?”
The little girl answered, “I don’t hear anyone fighting, grandma.”
The little girl listened for just a moment, hugged her worn, torn, well-loved Puppy a little closer and returned to her reading. It was no big deal. No big deal at all.
Puppy lived till the ripe, old age of 17, when all the thread in the world couldn’t put Puppy together again.
He is lovingly remembered.