I wasn’t really out buying milk.
There were still two full jugs behind that little plastic door. You asked where I was going and I didn’t know how to explain it to you. I know you heard us. You always heard us. Daddy can yell pretty loud sometimes, huh? Sometimes parents do things that make each other upset. But it’s not your fault, okay? It was never your fault.
So, anyway, Mommy just needed to take a little drive. Just like when I used to make you sit on that chair after you threw a fit. It’s for thinking about what you did wrong, remember? Sometimes adults need to think too. So Mommy needed to go think about some things and I told you I was going to get milk because I didn’t want to explain. I needed to calm down before I threw a fit too.
And before I left, do you remember what you asked me? You wanted to ride that new bike you got for your birthday. You asked us all year for it. The red one with the gold lightning bolt on the tires. You wanted to go fast. And the morning of your birthday, you ran into our room and jumped on our bed in the space between us where you used to sleep at night. We just pretended we forgot it was your birthday. We bought the bike months ago.
But when you asked me before I left if you could ride your bike that day I said yes without thinking because I needed to get away. And I was already gone before I realized Daddy didn’t know I’d left. I didn’t worry though because I knew he’d figure it out. He tells me he fell asleep. I don’t know if he’s lying. I wish you could tell me.
You must have gone fast. It’s a steep hill and that corner comes so quickly when you’re six and feel the wind in your hair and you forget that sometimes the breaks stick. But it’s not you, honey. Of course not. That tree is so big. That one in Beth’s yard that you think looks like a Christmas tree. The branches are just so thick. He couldn’t see you. How couldn’t he have seen you?
When I got back, they wouldn’t let me in. I could see the Christmas tree and that yellow tape you always thought was so pretty and I never had the heart to tell you what it meant. I got out of the car and asked the police officer what happened, and I hit him. Hit him like I told you to never hit anyone until he let me through. And then I saw you. And then I saw Daddy bent over in the grass. And then I saw the car. There was nothing on it. You didn’t even leave a scratch.
I didn’t leave your room for a few days. I slept in your bed. Well – I didn’t sleep much. Just stared up at the soft little white clouds we painted on your ceiling for you when you were just a tiny baby in our arms. I wouldn’t let go of that rabbit you’d never let me wash. I hope you don’t mind. Daddy broke that model airplane you built together. He broke a lot of things. He spent hours trying to glue it back together though. I tried telling him it wouldn’t fix things.
I know you probably wish you could have worn your brown cowboy t-shirt, that one that you got at Disneyworld, the one Woody gave you. But we picked your gray suit you hated because you always looked so cute in it even when we couldn’t get your hair to stick straight. We wanted you to look your best when you got there. Maybe we should have just let you wear the t-shirt.
I hope you went fast. I hope you didn’t feel anything. Just remember how it felt, baby. How it felt to be free. I don’t know if I can ever feel like that again. Not after this. Not after feeling your warm, delicate skin against my chest for six years and getting left with this cold thousand dollar slab of marble that just doesn’t seem like enough because I know there will never be a price high enough for what I did to you.