“Slowly now,” I say. “Slowly, baby. Let’s slow it down.”
“We can get through this, kiddo. We can. We will.”
I curl my body around yours, still small enough to fit – one cup perfectly designed to nest inside another, then, someday another still, and another still. God’s infinitely perfect Mama Plan.
“Slowly, baby. I’m here. I’ve got you.”
I wrap myself around you. I throw my leg over yours, wrap my arm around your shoulders, cup your wet cheek in my hand.
Leave her alone! She’s done nothing!
I silently shout to no one there.
Leave. Her. Alone.
Come get ME.
You’re trembling. Damn it, you’re trembling.
I pull you closer and tug at the comforter. I arrange it just so until it covers us both. I know you’re not cold, but I have to do something. Put something between you and them.
Come get ME.
“I’m here, baby.”
“I didn’t like the Bippity Boppity Boutique,” you say. They are the first words you’ve spoken since we lost time.
“I know, baby. I know.”
It’s what you say when it’s too big. It’s “I’m sad.” It’s “I don’t like not having control.” It’s “I feel trapped and these feelings are too big.” It’s “Help me get out of this place.”
“I didn’t like the Bippity Boppity Boutique,” you say again.
“You don’t ever have to go there again, sweet love. I promise.”
It was supposed to be a big treat. I’d planned it, saved for it. couldn’t wait to give it to you. It was a disaster. And then it became a script.
“What should I have said?” you ask.
The script. There’s comfort in the script.
You could have said, “Mama, I changed my mind.”
“And I didn’t want to do the Bippity Boppity Boutique. I didn’t like the Bippity Boppity Boutique.”
“I know. The Bippity Boppity Boutique is all done. Promise.”
A jagged sob steals your breath. Your mouth opens into a wrenching silent scream. It closes, then opens, then closes again. There is no sound.
She doesn’t deserve this. No one does.
Take me, God damn you! Take ME.
Come out and fight.
I slowly push the heel of my hand into the center of your back. Harder. Harder still.
The pressure helps. Your breathing slows.
“You’re here,” you say.
Always, baby. Always.
You hear that? I’m here with her. Now go.
We wait out the demons together.
And I thank God that you’re still small enough to fit.