Excerpt from Line of Flight
Excerpt from Line of Flight

Philadelphia 1919

Mornings are the hardest times. Emerging from the deep well of dreams, I inevitably mistake the tap-tap-tap of rising steam in the radiators for your mother’s footsteps on the back stairs, returning from another long shift at the hospital. The ceiling pales as indigo night fades to ink wash. The pigeons stir and coo in their rooftop dovecote. My mind clears, and my heart sinks once again.

So, I was already awake when you crawled into my bed at dawn, once again wondering how to answer you when you ask where is Mama. I don’t want to scold you or silence you, even as the question stirs such heartache. Instead, you stunned me.

“Mama says hello!” you whispered. “Odds and Bodkins told me.”

I caught my breath. Our pigeons’ conversation is a favorite topic. “Is that what they’re cooing about up on the roof?”

You nodded and snuggled under my arm, clutching your beloved Boppy, the stuffed rabbit your mother stitched from worn gray socks. Then you made him kiss me on the nose. It was as if her fingers brushed my face.

I promise, Zoé, with you, every day, I will strive to do better than I did with your mother. When you read this someday, you shall be my judge.

So, this is how it all began.

Image: Nathan Dumlao