A story of life, loss, and love
Love, Vivienne
every little thing
Everyday I watch three little birds. They go on my doorstep and call. I dump birdseed in a small red ceramic-glass bowl.
They sing to me. I can hear them. Sweet cries and joyful noises. It brings me away from reality.
‘Cause every little thing is gonna be alright. I can hear Bob Marley in my mind. These birds...they’re wonderful.
I named them Julianna, Sunny, and Skye. I do not know if they are male or female. I don’t care.
“Vivi!” Seldom am I called by this tender, sweet nickname by my mother. My father died when I was young.
I go inside reluctantly, leaving Julianna, Sunny, and Skye the birdseed. Later, the bowl will be empty and I will bring it inside and wash it lovingly and with care.
I sit down stiffly on the brown coffee-colored couch. Emily is sprawled on of the three matching chairs, looking relaxed. Emily is my mother.
I don’t call her Mother. Mother is someone who makes you go to sleep on time so you can be well-rested for school.
I don’t call her Mommy. Mommy is someone who gives you hot tea with honey when you’re sick.
I don’t call her Mama. Mama is someone who tells you stories about the great wide world and what you can do to help it.
So I call her Emily.
Kate, my younger sister, is sitting next to me. “It’s alright, baby,” I whisper to her. I give her a hug, and place one of my old sweatshirts around her shoulders. It’s pale green, and it is her favorite sweatshirt out of my collection of ratty hoodies.
Her big green eyes widen. “Really? For me?” Kate is always asking if I have any hand-me-downs for her. I guess her six-year-old (six and a quarter, she always groans) curiosity can’t sustain her.
“Yeah. To keep,” I say, and move closer to her.
“ThankyouthankyouthankyouthankyouthankyouVivi!” She rushes with her little red lips.
I laugh. “You’re welcome.”
“Girls!” Emily raps her knuckles on the hard, brown wood coffee table. “I have said multiple times, clothes are supposed to be bought and approved by me.”
“Right, Mom.” Kate replies right away. I love my little sister so much, but it’s clear that she’s Emily’s favorite.
“But Daddy always let us wear what we wanted,” I whine.
Emily gives me a hard look; almost as hard as the diamonds that she’s wearing on her wrists, neck, and ears. Then she smiles, a ferocious smile that is like a fox’s-sly, sneaky, and clever.
“Well, speaking of fathers...” she pauses, trying to be dramatic. “I have a new boyfriend.”
Kate and I are unimpressed. Emily always has a boyfriend. We don’t really care, because about every three weeks, she says, “I have a new boyfriend.”
I like the periods when she has a new boyfriend the best, because she’s happy and isn’t mean. In the middle, she’s okay, but getting tired of him. Then in the end, she’s mean and takes her anger out on us.
Kate immediately starts asking questions. I play with a loose thread.
“Honey, I’ll call him right now.” Emily fishes for her glittery gold cell phone in her gigantic fuchsia purse. Kate squeals.
“Oh, hey, Maxie. Yeah. Um, yes. Could you come over? That would be fantastic.” Pause. “Uh-huh.” Another pause. “Yeah. Mm-hm.” A third pause. “Really? I bet the girls would adore that.” A fourth pause. “Okay, sweetie. See you in, um, ten minutes!” She makes a kissy sound into the phone and hangs up.
“Oh. Vivienne, that was my boyfriend Maxwell. He’s coming over in ten minutes with a surprise!” She trills.
Kate faces me and starts to fill me in on the details. “His name is Maxwell Smith. He’s forty years old, which is a year older than Mommy. He’s very nice. He goes to the beach a lot and is a professional surfer. Maxwell has really light blond hair-what did you call it, Mom?”
“Right. Sun-bleached. And he has really pretty eyes. Mommy says that they’re gray but they look blue or brown sometimes.”
“Thanks, Kate. Now I think I really know Maxwell.” Maxwell seems like the opposite of my father. He died when I was seven, and when Kate was one and a half, so she doesn’t remember him. Probably some bits and pieces, but she doesn’t remember like I do.
My father, Henry, had light brown hair that was a little longer than most men’s. He had bright blue eyes and loved to play soccer and baseball. We would play together a lot. Not after the accident.

Keep Reading

Chapter 2

FLASHBACK: accidents shouldn’t happen

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