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Speculative Kids Inspirational

A bubble bursts above my head. Shards of its soapy lining erupting across the heron sky. “Freeze!” I hear one of them say to my left. The other, to my right, shrieks with glee or impending violence, I cannot tell. Steeped in this serene moment, bookended by chaos, I want to stop time in its tracks.

All summer long, this is what I want to see, feel, smell, and hear. Clear heavens, cool breeze, a hint of jasmine, and the sound of my children engaged in pretend play. So, I make a wish on the next floating sphere, that instead of popping, it stops, suspended in the air. It passes by my head, its round edges glinting against the sun like an ethereal creature. I close my eyes, imagining I am in the page of one of my kid’s books. It’s a story about round, iridescent beings whose only purpose is to take care of the Earth and foster peace; a much more vulnerable Lorax, if you will. They glide through the air, imparting magical protections on trees, animals, and flowers, wanting nothing more than harmony in nature. I smile, while my lids burn red and wonder, when I open them, what will come of my wish.

        “It can’t be,” I whisper, the turf itching my elbows as I press all my body weight into them.  A perfect bubble hangs a few feet above where I lay. There is no breeze, but I can still smell the fragrance of white, starry vines. The backyard is silent and the sky is still the perfect shade of blue. The color a children’s illustrator would imagine it. I push myself upright so my torso is perpendicular to the ground. My buoyant offspring are statues, frozen in a way they would have preferred I was while playing their game. I swallow down the growing fear monster blasting bile into my throat. What have you done? I am constantly questioning my decisions as a parent, but this goes beyond sleep training or picking the right daycare. My children are unblinking, unmoving, and showing no signs of life. They are extras in a human rendition of a classical painting, and I am their tortured creator.

However, before terror over the real-life consequences of my wish consumes me, I stop in front of a statuesque hummingbird. Her usual flitting form is poised and I reason, I can’t have also done this to her. This is a dream. Then, suddenly, it feels eerily familiar. I have had this dream before. I had it the morning I took my LSATs, as I looked around the room at all the confident test-takers and locked eyes with a black-haired, brown-eyed man who smiled at me, as if he already knew. I wished upon the string around my finger then and, once everything froze, sauntered through my stoic classmates until I reached him. I studied his perfect, unflinching face and knew what he did: we would fall in love. I had the same dream the night I was almost attacked just a few blocks from the apartment I shared with my soon to be husband. My would-be assailant was walking toward me and, as he lunged in my direction, I spotted a copper face on the sidewalk and wished on it. After the world stopped, I stayed only long enough to kick my failed assaulter in the groin, pick up the coin, and run until I was in our living room, my fiancé’s back to me while he cooked us dinner. And, again, the days our sons were born. I wished upon their glimmering irises, as round and perfect as buttons. The moment when the nurses, doctor, my husband, and the clatter outside our room ceased, and it was just me and them, was pure magic. I wish I could have bottled the light somehow emanating in that dank room. I would have attached it to a chain and worn it around my neck, like a talisman.

As I gaze upon the stiff limbs of my wild children, I remember how I felt both times I became a mother. Hope, joy, fear, and the fierce need to always keep them with me. That feeling remains, but they are often pushing away from me, no longer gummy-mouthed and clinging to my body like starfish. But then, I push myself away from them too. Pinching my eyes shut when they scramble into my bed after waking early. Closing the bathroom door to have a few minutes alone. Clearing my head of every dark thought while listening to their complaints in the car. I still pull them to me, but when I do, they often resist.

I smooth their blonde hair, inspect their manic expressions, and think about leaving. I could go upstairs and fold the teetering pile of laundry. I could get in the car and quickly grab the few items I need from the store, unencumbered. Then the thought of being in the world without them, knowing they are stuck here, makes my heart squeeze, like a lemon being rung of its juice. It is that pain in my chest that pulls me to the ground to sit between them. Then the heartache shifts to guilt over ever wishing time apart from them. Even though I know I’ll want it again thirty minutes after this dream is over.

My youngest is facing away from the sun and his naked skin glows against its rays. Combined with his wide smile and open arms, he is a picture of pure joy. I turn to toward my eldest and, with the rays beating on his bare chest, he is the sun itself. Their beauty claws at my chest. Before the guilt becomes all-consuming, I see movement in the corner of my eye. A flick of a tail through the sliding glass doors. A blinking pair of yellow eyes. I didn’t check to see if anything living inside was also impacted, but I take it as a sign that the world is waking up. I sit up on my knees and crawl to my first born, plant a kiss on his cheek, and do the same with my second. Then, I shuffle back to where I was before time stopped, lying on the fake grass a few feet away from them. I’m on my back, fixing my gaze once more on that bubble, waiting for it to pop.

June 07, 2024 21:29

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1 comment

Jonathan Todd
21:24 Jun 12, 2024

Great story Jessie. I really like that the narrator is not quite sure of their ability. As a reader I felt as mystified by it as they did. Their touch of guilt is rendered beautifully.


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