My room stopped shaking.
That could only mean two things.
My mom stuck her head through the door.
“Are you asleep?”
“Thinking about dad.”
“He’s in a better place.”
“Fire takes you to a better place?”
“Well, why every time I touch the top of the stove when the rings red you spank my booty? Don’t you want me to go to that better place to see daddy again?”
“It’s not your time yet, sweetie.”
And with that, she started to back her head out the door.
But I caught her by a hair when I said, “I know what can put me to sleep.”
“What’s that, sweetie?”
“Read me a bedtime story.”
“Jody, you’re 6. You’re too old for that.”
“But you never read me one. All the other kid’s moms do. You never treat me like a princess.”
And with that, she fully emerged in the doorway, came and knelt at my bedside.
She explained her reasons.
My grandfather was a highway serial killer. He use to climb through my mother’s window every night, where she lived with her foster mom, and tell her bedtime stories about a lonely king seeking a queen. The lonely king turned out to be him. The queens were the victims he abducted on the road. My grandfather killed the ones he deemed unfit to be a surrogate mother. My grandma died in a house fire.
I giggled. “Stop tryna scare me, mommy.”
She raised up, said she’ll be back. I thought when she did come back it was gone be through the windows. Good thing my room doesn’t have any. She walked back through the doorway a few seconds later holding papers in her hand. They were drawings. I felt funny, because every time I asked for a coloring book she told me it was a “no, no” and every time I showed her what I drew at school, in Miss Belle’s art class, she ripped it up. Mom told me they were the drawings she did at my age every morning after grandpa’s story the night before.
And with that, she kissed me on the cheek, raised the blanket from my belly button to my chin and left.
My room started shaking again.
There were 11 drawings. They all looked the same. The king, the princess, the castle. But the queen always had a different face. I saw guards in 5 of the drawings. But the king always outsmarted them. Well, except in the last one. I like the colors. I wanna trace over them. They look so pretty. Ooooh mom drew a dog. I want one! He so cute! If I had a dog I would name him Max. We can play horse-see.
My room stopped shaking.
Mom didn’t pop her head through the door.
This could only mean the second thing.
I heard a man’s voice. “Are you heading West?”
Mom told him yes.
My room dipped a little.
I sure hope that fellow makes my mom happy on the way West because I don’t want her mad because then I mad. What makes these guys so special??? How come she takes them to a better place and they get to see my daddy and she not let me go???