We lost mommy again, looked for her everywhere, first the obvious places under the tables, sofa, behind the bed, in the kitchen cabinets, out in the flowers, under the bushes. You lost your mommy again, the neighbors said when they saw us searching. We waved and went on playing, enjoying our motherless state for a few hours, taking off our shoes and jackets, running barefoot in the leaves. But then it began to grow dark, and still no sign of her yellow hair and white teeth. The dogs came by to sniff—don’t pee on our mommy, please, we said, hoping she was in the tall grass, among the large tree roots, somewhere we’d missed.
The birds stopped singing and went to sleep; the swamps turned from green to black, and still nothing. Who will sing us to sleep? Who will read us our bedtime story about the lost children whose mother searched everywhere for them? No, actually it was the father who searched, their mother was a witch. “Maybe we should get a new one,” said the littlest. “We could try the forest,” said another, “like in the book, the house made of candy.” “Tomorrow,” said the oldest. “It’s time to sleep.” We went inside to find the story and out fell mommy, slipped from between the pages. “Where were you?” we said. “Fighting that witch, your mother, all day,” she said. She was bent a little around the ankles and wrists and her hair was wrinkled but she was there, and she was ours. We held on tight until our fists ached and our fingernails pinched under her skin. We wouldn’t let her go again.
Originally published in Cream City Review