Annie and her mother and a few aunts and cousins had spent Fourth of July on the meadow hill, playing and wriggling their toes in the grass. Annie was captivated by the older Frisbee players down below and spent much of the afternoon with her freckled nose turned to the sky, following the path of a red plastic Wham-0.
By sunset, the Frisbee players had moved on, and Annie’s mother was exhausted by the humidity of the Minnesota summer. She had fallen asleep in a lawn chair, one hand still gripping a plastic tumbler of Tang, threatening to spill on the paperback in her lap. Annie, walking over to tell her about the dandelions she’d just named, saw that the book cover was a picture of a women being kissed by a pirate. Annie had never seen her mother kissed like that. Up close her mother smelled like menthol cigarettes and sun block and Annie could sort of hear her breathing. Her aunts were someplace over the hill, probably. Annie put her dandelions next to her mother’s chair and walked down the hill.
The cooling grass felt damp under her feet and Annie stopped to squat down and pat it to see if it was actually wet or just cold. She sat down once, and then leaned back, and then rolled down the hill a couple of turns. Then she got up, and grabbed a handful of grass and tossed it in the air so it rained down on her face. Wet or cold, it felt nice. A bit further down, she stopped to perform a couple of halting, crooked summersaults for a cocker spaniel. Most of the people had moved their picnic paraphernalia to the crest of the hill. The fireworks would start and everyone wanted a good view. Annie had been watching the sky all day and now found the ground more interesting.
A kite dove down near her and when she looked up to watch it, she realized that she’d lost sight of her mother and cousins. She looked around a bit and, finding no one familiar, went on to visit a woman at the edge of the lawn, who was eating purple grapes and wearing a hat. Annie approached her slowly with two fingers in her mouth.
“I’m Maria,” said the lady. “Nice to meet you.”
“Meet you,” said Annie. There was still grass in her hair.
Maria took off her hat. “Are you lost?”
Annie looked up, away from the top of the meadow hill. “Nope.”
Maria was sitting on a big patchwork blanket, with a couple of nice velvety looking cushions. “Do you want to sit down a bit?” she asked.
“Kay.” Annie looked at the book sitting next to Maria. It was old and blue and worn around the edges, but the cover was hard. You could probably put a drink on it and it wouldn’t spill. Maria handed Annie a few grapes.
“These don’t have any seeds,” said Maria. Annie smiled a little and ate one.
The sun was just falling behind the hill, turning everything a pinkish orange. Annie looked at Maria’s brown hair and the freckles on her arms. She skooched closer and put her arm next to Maria’s. Maria’s skin was darker, but Annie had freckles too. Maria smelled like iced tea and honey and purple flowers.
Annie finished her grapes slowly and watched the last of the people trudging up the hill, dragging their folding chairs and towels and children. She looked up at Maria and squinted a little. “Will you be my mommy?”
“Sure,” said Maria and she put her hat on Annie’s head. It was much too big, but Annie liked it. As the firecrackers began to go off in the deepening blue, the two walked down off the field hand in hand.
Created: Mar 05, 2014Inkwash Document Media