The girl’s dark ponytail spills over her pink over-filled backpack, slapping softly against it as she skips down the road.

“Where are you going?”  I ask her, matching her stride.

She looks at me with big, dark brown eyes.  My grandmother’s eyes.  She knows who I am.

“I’m running away to California.  I want to swim with the dolphins.”

“Do you know how to swim?”  She can’t be more than five.

She shrugs.  “I’ll learn.”

“Can I come?”

She stops walking and turns her little body to face mine.  “Do YOU swim?”

I shrug.  “I can learn.”  I smile, and she puts her sticky little hand in mine.

I look down at our feet and am surprised to see sand between our toes, a surging ocean before us.  We run to the waves and dive into them, still holding hands.  A family of dolphins swims toward us, welcoming us.  The baby nuzzles the little girl’s cheek and she laughs.  I can hear it, her laughter, floating through the water.  It’s the most beautiful sound I’ve ever heard.  I see a bright light up ahead…

A car alarm goes off outside, and I’m startled awake.  I’m alone in my dark bedroom.  I swallow another sleeping pill, hoping it will silence the dull ache in my lower abdomen that has stolen my sleep since the day she left me.  I lay back down and pray for pleasant dreams, hoping she’ll come back.


4 thoughts on “Daughter

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