A Little Golden Book of Recovery: On Saturday Mornings We Play in the Garden

wee me“Saturday. Cartoon Day,” she whispers me awake each Saturday morning. I don’t know why she whispers. I am the only one here. 

I try to ignore her but she whispers again, “Saturday.” 

I groan and stretch and groan again but do I get up. She haunts the bathroom door until I come out. I turn on the TV and cue up the DVD of classic cartoons she likes and, soon enough, “Overture! Curtain! Lights!” 

Saturday Cartoon Day isn’t even a thing anymore, I think but don’t say. 

She doesn’t even watch the DVD I got her but still wants it on. It’s okay. This is her time and I am to indulge her.

“Pancakes!” she says before I’ve even asked and I’m not surprised. It’s always pancakes.

I pour myself a cup of coffee and mix up a small batch of batter and put a few sausage links on in a pan to be done in time to serve with the pancakes.

She prattles. 

She prattles non-stop and sets up a tray with the pretty plate and fancy napkins. I never use them just for myself but she insists and I’m long past arguing this with her. It has been almost a year now since I committed to spending Saturday mornings with her and in that time I have gotten used to her bossy nature and prattling and have even come to like our visits.

“Can we play in the garden?” she asks and says “Thank you” before I’ve answered and is out the door. I carry the tray to the small table there and take a moment to breath in the air. The sun. It’s a good idea, the garden. It always is.

I think I understand why she always wants to be outside. Outside is the place where a little one like her can be on her own and not underfoot or in the way or in the middle. Even in harsh weather it is usually safe outside. 

Outside is where the trees sing in the breeze before the breeze dips down to caress a cheek, lift the hair. Where bees buzz their secret language to each other. Where she can feel her bare feet on the ground and be connected to something solid, stable. I notice then her tiny bare feet and smile. Outside in the garden on Saturday mornings is a really good idea. 

Then I notice the tray of food. Not again. Not now. Not still. After all this time and all this…work. Still? 

“Put it back,” I spit the words. Rage fills me suddenly and completely. 

There were three sausages on the plate. Now there are two. I know what she has in that fist behind her back.

“Put it back.” 

I want to slap her. I want to slap her hard. 

you greedy needy filthy little…

I want to hurt her.

 

This time I do not. This time.

Then, I want to give her the sausages. All the sausages. Shove them down her throat until she chokes on them and can’t eat any more but I know there isn’t enough. 

There is never enough. 

Instead, I look at her. I really look at her. I feel my knees go weak. 

God, she is so little. What is she? Like three? Four? When she first started showing up, she was bone-thin and her dress was dirty. Her neck was so dirty those first weeks it took almost the entire visit to scrub her dirty neck until it was raw while she cried and cried. She was scared of her own shadow back then. She didn’t trust me and was suspicious and it came off as defiant so I wanted to break her until I realized she was broken already. 

I thought she was nothing short of ridiculous. 

In the weeks and months since, she has come out of herself and I have gotten to know her pretty well and, yeah,  she’s a pip, that one. I have grown fond of her. Very...fond. 

Her blond bangs are cut short so I can see that tears are beginning to pool in her blue eyes. She is waiting for me to act so she will know how to feel. I stop myself cold.

 “I want to tell you something,” I say. I become very still in my seat. 

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