by Candace Turner

Eleven a.m. and Alice
had already swallowed a Xanax
or maybe more than one.
The need to calm her thoughts, memories
stop them yelling, screaming, blaming
was overpowering.
It had been a month since her daughter, Emily’s death.

She parted the curtains
Opened a window.
Listened to the sparrows
twitter as they bathed in the birdbath.
The birdbath Emily had insisted upon.

Mad at the world.
Mad at the sunny afternoon.
But mostly she was angry with herself.

What fault in her body gave birth
to a child destined to die young?

The kitchen table still
cluttered with neighborhood casseroles.
Why does it seem so important to feed me?
She had a strong desire to give a quick tug
on the tablecloth and send it all
crashing to the floor.

She barely heard the timid knock on the front door.
Another casserole and a forced
Alice braced herself.

Ten year-old Rebecca
stood on the door-step
in her grass-stained sneakers.
She held a big red envelope.
Rebecca, Emily’s BFF
actually, her only friend.

Hi, Mrs. P
I’ve got two tickets to the zoo.
It was Emily’s favorite place
to visit when she was feeling well.

Their eyes met.
Tears glistened but failed to fall.

Please, Mrs. P
I’d really like you to go with me.

Alice’s reflexes jumped when
Rebecca reached for her hand.

Please come, I’ll show you Emily’s
favorite place.

They left the lion’s den
entered a dark paneled room
still and quiet as a church.

There. Look there.
See him?
Emily said he was unique,
probably related to a unicorn.
A horned owl, have you ever
seen such a thing?

They stared at the owl
He stared back.

On the bus ride home
Alice thanked Rebecca for
sharing a piece of Emily.

Mrs. P, did you know my
Mother died last year?

Emily said she’d look for
her over … over there.

Mrs. P, do you believe in karma?

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