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.