It has been a long break for my blog. It seems the five retrograde planets has had me reeling too. So many losses. So much surrender.
This story caught me by surprise. A forgotten memory of childhood that had a huge affect on me. It was possibly the first time I realised the enormity of Motherhood. I was intensely moved by the infinite dipping into a finite pool.
Just the two of us.
Candace hopped from one foot to the other. Her stocky frame taking flight briefly before becoming solid once more. Her face shone with a fire that she alone kept stoked. The unrealised dreams I had long kept captive rattled the bars. I silenced them with a tightening of the rope. Dreams had no place out here in the open.
“Pumpkin fritters! Pumpkin fritters!” Candace chanted, the kitchen floor rat-a-tatting in rhythm with the fall of her feet. She sat hugging the roundness of the stool with her hips and clapped her hands as I placed the bowl in front of her. I scooted the flour across the table and she splashed it into the bowl. A cloud dusted her face in white. We breathed in the smell of cinnamon and sugar and laughed as only those who know they are unseen can laugh. The kitchen was hers today. Tonight I would scrub and curse the day away but the kitchen was hers today.
“No Candace.” I said easing my leathery body between her and the hot oil. “Let me do this part. You can dust them with the sugar all by yourself.” She pouted and opened her mouth to wail. I plopped orange dough into the pot and her mouth closed with the sizzle of oil.
We sat on the damp grass outside. Candace nibbled the crispy edges of the fritter and threw the stodgy centres to the pigeons flapping noisily around us. Her lips glistened in the weak sunlight. My mouth puckered in baking powder protest and I tossed the offending confectionary to the squabbling birds. Baking was never about eating anyway. My daughter lay back on the grass with a sigh, her face offered up to the autumn sun. Flour still dusted her cheeks. I leant over and brushed my fingers lightly over her skin. It was cool like porcelain. I have always loved the feel of her. If I closed my eyes and trusted my touch, she was perfect.
Thirty years it has been just me and Candace. A generous cheque comes once a month tinged with guilt and regret. Motherhood came late for me. At thirty-eight, when I had finally given up the dream and Carlos had conjured a future for us of travel and adventure, I fell pregnant. Tests revealed her secret but I refused to believe it. Carlos became withdrawn and irate as my belly strained against my waistband.
“Why did you have the tests if you didn’t want to know?” He demanded, his eyebrows a black and furious line across his forehead. I’d hold my hands over my expanding stomach as though to shield Candace from his ire. Of course it was fear not anger that he wrestled with but I was so far away on the path of my motherhood dream that I could not hear his silent cries.
When they handed her to me he had already left. I held my child in my arms with such overpowering love that I hardly noticed his absence. Now that I am almost Seventy I feel waves of terror that make me more empathic. Who will protect my child when I am gone?
I lay down next to Candace reaching for her hand and she giggled like water running over pebbles and squeezed my hand reassuringly.