Roman Candle

May 23, 2010
By MaddyMarie BRONZE, Scottsbluff, Nebraska
MaddyMarie BRONZE, Scottsbluff, Nebraska
2 articles 0 photos 0 comments

A little girl sat dry-eyed and still in the backseat of her mother’s Cavalier. With tiny doll-like hands she toyed absently with the corner of her dress, skinny scabbed legs kicking out at the seat in front of her. She didn’t notice much, not her mother’s admonishments to stop, not the heat of the sun-baked car upholstery, not the little brother in the blue plastic carseat beside her. With glassy and green eyes, she stared straight out ahead, past the windshield and whatever stood beyond it and into her small store of memories.

Last year: Christmas. The smell of the turkey burning as smoke billowed out of the kitchen, revealing her mother, pregnant and in tears as it cleared away. Her father, taking the car keys and creeping out the front door, leaving it propped open behind him as the smoke followed in tendrils that only dispersed as they hit the winter air. Leaving her behind, sitting Indian style under the Christmas tree, wrapping paper shredded at her feet, blue and green and red lights washing over her face, marking it.

February: coming home with a shoebox full of pink hearts and discount-packaged candies, smiling gap-toothed and feeling normal. The door swinging open and the sight of her mother sobbing at the long dining room table, checkbook in hand. Being told there wasn’t much in the kitchen, that tonight was a night for make-believe, of conversation hearts for dinner.

May: her father attacking the huge picture window with his fists and shouts, words slurred and breathing heavy. Being told to shut the curtains, shut them now, and then hiding away in the coat closet, fabrics rough on her skin, her mother’s hand in hers, and the baby sleeping as though nothing could ever hurt him.

July: a day, her mother said, for celebrating. So it was hot summer fireworks, gunpowder and signed divorce papers, happiness shooting up into the sky like a Roman Candle, not close enough for her to touch just yet, but at least not so high up anymore.

This morning: waves of tears shaken away by “We’re better off now, we’re better off now.” Bill envelops like great open mouths, angry, sitting on the desk. Despair floating around her child’s head like a cloud, a brave smile hanging from her mother’s lips that, when brushed across by a tiny thumb, only crumbled and surrendered.

The Cavalier trundled on, nearly out of gas, as stoplights and road signs and carefree cars went by. Sighs came, simultaneous, from her mother and the baby, like twin reminders of life and difficulty at the same time. The little girl stretched long in her seat. The slatted bars of light panned across her face and she knew that somewhere, outside, was the sun.

Similar Articles


This article has 1 comment.

on Jun. 6 2010 at 3:39 pm
horse95lover BRONZE, New York, New York
4 articles 9 photos 14 comments

Favorite Quote:
"Outside of a dog, a book is man's best friend. Inside of a dog, it's too dark to read" - Groucho Marx

this is really good! please keep writing


MacMillan Books

Aspiring Writer? Take Our Online Course!