A vignette, by Jammie Kern
My neighbor wears a red winter cap and rakes leaves into a pile. I watch him from my kitchen window as he lights a small fire. A wispy strand of smoke begins to rise to the pale December sky, reaching for air. It’s hard to stand at the sink to wash a pan, my belly gets in the way. I try to breathe. In four months I’ll hold this baby. Four more months and I won’t be afraid of losing him.
Flannel pajamas lay on the bathroom floor, cheetah print on a pink background. I dare not touch them today. I dare not lean to smell them. Not with this baby boy growing. I turn on the oven and dig through the pantry, searching for ingredients.
Both of my daughters are coming home, as soon as their father picks them up from school. “Bring them to me now,” I say. My babies.
My sobs are at the edges of my lips, my tears already dripping. I saw it on the news. Jessica was getting cowgirl boots for Christmas. She was only six, standing in her classroom when a killer ruined everything. Seven states away and I hear parents wailing like sirens at the fire station. Their babies.
The smell of burning brush fills me, like fog in a valley. Dead leaves become flakes of ash, flickering towards the clouds. The fire grows. I mix dough in a blue bowl while warmth from the oven heats my kitchen. Hard chocolate chips melt against the roof of my mouth. Tomorrow, I’ll buy the boots for my daughter. She’ll open the box on Christmas morning while I pray for Jessica’s mother. Our babies.
Four more months until I hold my boy. I clasp my hands under my belly and watch my neighbor, in his red cap, leaning on his rake. I hear my husband’s truck in the driveway, listen for the doors to slam. My daughters smell the cookies as they walk in the door, happy, with their coats and backpacks swishing. I wrap my arms around them as my neighbor’s fire dies.
Jammie Kern is our blogger of the month for December. She blogs at Jammie Kern.com.