Thursday, January 6, 2011
Fiction by Feral
I recalled her arriving behind me as I had just turned the bubbling pot of potato’s down. Dinner would be late again I knew and blew out a rush of exasperated air. I turned at the incessant tugging of my shirt and looked down at her. There she stood, cheeks round and dimpled, eyes wide with anticipation, chubby fingers clutched tightly around a bottle of crimson nail polish.
“Paint my toes Mama?!” she asked with the gush of excitement only a four-year old can possess after a long day. She shoved the tiny red bottle skyward. I smiled weakly.
“You mean paint your toenails don`t you?” I asked as starch began to solidify on my range-top. Her golden head bobbed a yes.”Can we do it later baby? Mommy has to get the—“
Her face fell instantly. My heart sank just as quickly. I decided that dinner could wait another five minutes. We went into the living-room and began the pedicure. Her tiny toes were not easy to beautify! They kept wriggling and she kept giggling. It wasn`t the best pedicure in the world but she seemed thrilled. I heard a spurt of potato water hit the stove as I sat on my calves in front of our sofa.
“Now me paint your toes Mama!” she gushed.
I hesitated slightly imagining the job she would do. I had seen her artwork on the walls. Lines meant nothing to my daughter when she sat down, tongue firmly between teeth, to color in her coloring books. Again it was those eyes that drew me in. I peeled off my socks as she squealed in joy. I sat down in her now empty seat.
“I do good Mama! I paint your toes pretty!” she exclaimed as she loaded, and I do mean loaded, the nail polish brush.
By the time my pedicure was completed the coffee-table was speckled with dots of scarlet and my left toe was glued to the toe directly beside it. Ah but she was so proud of her work! It shined in her eyes. Illuminated her face and warmed my heart.
Funny how that same scenario occurred just the other night, although the potato`s cooking over thankfully weren`t part of the picture. Ten years had passed in the blink of a mother`s eye. I looked up from my book to see my daughter come pattering from her room, or her den as her father and I call it at times, to sit down beside me on the couch. In her hand she held a small bottle of purple nail polish.
“Would you paint my toes?” she asked from behind a fall of safflower hair.
I shook off the shock. We hadn`t done this since she was small, her skills at make-up, hair and other such womanly things had bloomed and she didn`t require her mother’s assistance anymore. I wasn`t sure what prompted her to ask. Maybe she had suffered though a tough day in high school. Mayhap she had grown bored with her texting and her instant messaging. Yeah right mom I chided myself mentally. Or maybe she simply wanted a small moment to cling to her mom and her childhood. Lord knows it was slipping away too rapidly for her parents likes.
“Only if you paint mine in return,” I answered and laid my novel aside.
As the tiny brush moved over her toenails we chatted about school, boys, mid-terms, boys, music, boys….you know-the things that are important to a nearly fifteen year old girl. Her pedicure was done and she smiled at my handiwork.
“I haven`t lost my touch,” I remarked then flopped my feet onto her denim-covered thighs.
Tongue between teeth she slowly began my pedicure. Her father walked past as she worked diligently on my big toe. He stopped to ask how she could manage to even see my toes with her hair in her eyes. She lifted her head to reply, her grip on my toe slipped and a swatch of purple polish slathered down between my toes. She gasped. I gasped. Then we two girls broke into a fit of giggles that the poor man of the house didn`t even try to comprehend. Tears streamed down our cheeks. By the time the giggle fit was over my toes were plastered together yet again.
It was then, at that very moment, that I looked at the child/young adult/woman and had a thought slam into my head.
“Tell you what,” I managed to say around the lingering snorts,” You come back here in ten years and we`ll do this again.”
She looked at me in that way teenagers have of looking at their addled parents, but her head nodded just the same.
“Yeah sure mom,” she said then set off to find the nail polish remover and a cotton ball.
I hope that she remembers her vow. I hope that collage, work, possibly hundreds of miles and perhaps even a fiancée or husband don`t push our ten year pedicure date aside.
I look forward to painted toes.