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I have been painfully chained to my mattresses lately. Yes, the tiny flying monkeys are back, this time only allowing me to accompany them on their extreme adventures carrying me to the bathroom and back.
If we only had a zip line.
My neighbor, Nabe, had called earlier, wanting to check on me. “Did you eat anything today like you didn’t eat yesterday?”
Nabe’s questions are always hard to answer. Plus, I was deep into chapter five of Sybil Exposed, as if the first Sybil hadn’t been enough for me.
“Why?” I asked suspiciously.
“Well I just thought that if you haven’t been eating that you might want to share this Alfredo dish I’m making.”
I brightened, remembering how pleasant the other night with Nabe had been, the one when the flying monkeys weren’t so tiny…when they were still trying to muzzle me. I had to fight hard that night, but as everyone knows, any fight is exhausting, so instead of expending extra energy trying to talk, I just listened to Nabe.
This action alone seemed to calm down a lot of loose nerves in the room, especially in my two and a half cats. And me. And Nabe.
So if Nabe wanted to bring over his Alfredo dish and serve it up in bowls in the bedroom, where I was still heavily into the exposure of Sybil but obviously in need of sustenance, who was I to say no? Nabe knows best most of the time anyway.
I hadn’t laughed in days, and I had no expectations of Nabe making me laugh, and I really just wanted his Alfredo stuff, but still—a girl does what a girl has to do—so I leaned back into the covers and began to listen to Nabe, who—incidentally—was leaned up against the window frame, making sure none of my cats jumped through the open screen.
We do have pets in common.
Nabe started telling me a story about how his dog is so sly, it steals one French fry at a time from a whole box, so nobody knows what’s happening until all da fries is gone.
I laugh so hard that I realize I’ve had a full day, and it’s time for bed.
There has been an ongoing debate in this household about who belongs and who does not, especially lately, with the addition of another child who appeared out of nowhere—another black child: Leo. Unlike his much-older sister Lucy, who finally realized she was black when a black stray kept parading by our windows, Leo did not have to wait, for his heritage doesn’t stray that far from our steps.
Like this morning, when she was waiting for him between two potted plants out back.
The tiny flying monkeys had released the small of my back just enough for me to rise to the occasion of the day. So much had been going on in my mind, in my days and nights, that Sybil Exposed wasn’t even interesting anymore. Who knows why people have problems; the important thing is to keep having them.
We stood together as a family, as we always do—me holding a paper sack full of cat pee and poo—and I pulled the vertical blinds, and there she was: Leo’s mother.
The first very sad but unmistakable piece of evidence was the fact that we all thought she was Leo, including Leo.
Knowing that I hadn’t opened the door and that he'd been scampering about my feet two seconds before did not stop a near heart-attack. As most parents do, I looked to the other children—certainly they must know something further.
But they were stymied as well. How could we all still be inside, and Leo be outside?
After a quick sniff-fest to make sure that our heads weren’t crazy, we all looked outside again and there she still was: Leo’s Mother. Lean like Leo. Same white markings. Same broad nose and forehead.
My heart passed under the dirt thinking how awful it would be to have to give Leo back.
Of course she was waiting out there for him.
I’d seen her before.
I looked down at the three souls gathered at the doorway, all wanting to go out for different reasons. I had always trained them to want this--to go outside, but return to me—without ever imagining that a real mother would be waiting steps away.
I did what every adoptive mother in the world would have done at the time. I flicked my nail hard against the window pane, and then I did it again, until she was gone.