Through the Lens of Longing

by Elaine R. Ramsey

Sometimes, I think I can stop Time, you know? Almost.

(I wish I could.)

I can get close. If I try hard enough, Time becomes molasses – thick and bitter-sweet. I begin to see every shade of green, every blade of grass, every leaf on every tree in the park.

I have time to see what I couldn’t, before.

I see the table, groaning under a feast of many traditions blended into one.

Checkered cloths snap in the breeze.

Aunties scramble to weigh down the edges with watermelon and plates of deviled eggs and a bowl of rusting guacamole.

I see the ear of corn wobble off its golden pyramid and roll towards the edge like the children playing nearby on a grassy hill.

The corn teeters at the edge.

The children collect in a heap at the bottom.

There is a shout of warning.

There are shouts of glee.

Auntie Deb leaps for the wayward vegetable, but the puppy is faster and skitters off with its prize.

I look for my daughter.

She weaves through the crowd of family and friends-dear-as-family in a flash of pink. My mother gave her the dress, although she has plenty of outfits. She said she couldn’t resist because it was pink.

My daughter doesn’t walk. She runs.

After the puppy.

After her cousins.

Her chubby legs pump in stiff concentration and her light brown curls bounce in stringy, sweaty coils.

A flash of pink amidst the green grass and blue jeans and brown shoes.

I see the smoke rising up from the grill and hear the sizzle of skirt-steak and hotdogs. Acrid blends with savory in delicious combination. I can feel the heat of the fajita soaking through my paper plate and the warmth of the sun playing across my shoulders as it sneaks through leafy branches pushed around in the wind.

(Oh, God, I want to stay here. In the sun and the green and the blue.)

The puppy, finished with its golden booty, sets sights on a tastier objective.

Coleslaw flips. Cabbage flows to the ground in a frothy waterfall.

A roar goes up.

There are pawprints in the eggs. The pyramid of corn collapses.

There is screaming and laughing and waving and grabbing.

The children gather to see the caper. They chase the puppy, again. It hides under the rainbow playground, growling over its prize.

I look for my daughter.

There are no curls bobbing after cousins.

I step away from the chaos at the table.

The park begins to bleed out its color.

She is not on the playground.

The sky goes charcoal.

She is not weaving among the adults.

The trees sharpen into black silhouettes. The grass dies, crisp brown.

(Please let Time stop. Stop now. Stop then.)

I turn towards the street.

It was far enough away not to worry about, you know?  We couldn’t even hear the traffic noise from our table.

It is lined with parked cars. I know they are red and green, silver and blue.

I see only grey.

And a flash of pink darting between ebony bumpers.