by Tiffany Vakilian
It is a sparkling afternoon, with traffic heavy yet moving along. I get the call on the way and before I hear the voice, I know. The day becomes a cracked glass flute.
Jesse is his normal ebullient self, and I smile as many watts as I can. He climbs in his car seat, regaling me with his new friends and their antics at day care. Pandora plays Disney tunes and I hold crumpled tissue facades of interest and excitement. Picking up Rachel is normal on one side. Her little backpack plops its done day into the trunk of my Civic and she settles in her booster seat.
We drive away from the sun on Oceanside Boulevard as Rachel opens Pandora’s box.
“Father Po died this weekend Miss Carmen. It makes me sad”, she says. Jesse’s only understanding of death is his dog put down two months prior. His slight interjections of how he misses Pinky put me in a mode of remindering.
“She’s with you in your head.”
“But she’s not here.”
His tinny voice is plaintive; frustrated.
Rachel attempts to help, closer to his mental level and Pinky-love, but melancholy is smoke within the growing car interior as I drive. Did I do this to them? Make them mentally perseverate on the life transition of closely loved ones? Broken hearts in the car breed by association – a cave of innocent confusion and blast wave immediacy. I try to turn up Pandora and smile, my crumpled paper heart already ash, yet still holding my mind enough in check to signal, accelerate, brake, park.
Please just go take your showers.
Please just watch TV.
I text letters, numbers and punctuation and blink prayers for a good strong wall of normalcy to hold up for the next 35 minutes and God answers this prayer the way I requested.
No mysterious ways.
Mom arrives, relieving me. She walks me to my car, and hugs me. She cries the tears I cannot, in the absence of the children.