Our Little Girl
When she was three, blonde with green eyes, she had full lips everyone noticed, dimples in her cheeks. We smiled at her. “She is so…” we said. That was the year your father died, a cave-in at the mine. We lost so many others then. When she was older, and the same size as at three, when she was twelve and then sixteen and went to high school, we looked at her and said, “How can she…” Her mother bought her dresses in the children’s section until she had to make her clothes: dresses and her jeans and tops, even underclothes. When she lost her mother too, we all made them. We made a prom dress and we made her prom queen in her junior and her senior year as well. We put tiaras in her hair, her blonde hair, with her green eyes and dimples in her cheeks. When she smiled or when she laughed, we couldn’t take our eyes off her. She said things; sometimes she sang. “Exactly like a…” When we watched her go, carrying a little suitcase, she turned and waved a handkerchief one of us had made for her. She looked so small, smaller than a bird, a bee, a dot on the horizon. We wanted to hope she would return but all that remained was a piece of paper with a thin, straight line, in pencil, with her signature beneath it.
Robert Pope writes short stories and teaches at The University of Akron. One of his stories appeared in the summer 2011 Kenyon Review.