Momma and Daddy brought me to the museum on Sunday. I’d never been to the museum. Momma was in her wheelchair, and Daddy pushed her around. He told me, “Today, Sally. We go where Momma wants to go. And we look at everything Momma wants to see.”
I held Momma’s hand, and kissed her cheek. “Xacly!” Momma was sick. She’d been sick a long time. And I worried about her. So, when Daddy asked if I wanted to do something, I’d said, “Let’s do something Mommy wants to do! Let’s let Mommy have some fun!”
And Momma wanted to visit the museum. To look at the pictures, and the paintings, and the statues. I didn’t care if none of them looked interesting to me, because Momma liked them.
I remember what she said to Daddy, “They have a special photography exhibit at the museum. Let’s go to that. I want to see the art. And the beautiful pictures.”
So, on Sunday, we were at the museum. Momma didn’t say much. But I knew it meant a lot to her to see the drawings, and the statues, because she cried. She sat in her chair, and stared at some of them, and smiled, and cried. “You like this one, don’t you Momma?” I squeezed Momma’s hand.
“Yes, sweetheart. I like this one.”
We took as long as Momma wanted to look through the drawings, and the statues. Daddy stood behind her, and I stood next to her. Her wig looked really pretty that day. All blonde, with just the right flip at the end. I stopped the museum guard and said, “Doesn’t my Momma look beautiful today?”
I remember he nodded, and he smiled, “Yes, indeed. She certainly does.”
It took forever. Well. Maybe not forever. But Momma did finally get to the photography stuff she wanted to see. A bunch of pictures someone took with a camera. I remember looking at them, and wondering how they did it. How they got everything to look just that way. Because. I’d never seen anything like them.
Momma squeezed my hand and smiled at me, “Do you see any pictures you really like?” When I didn’t answer, she told me to look around, “Go see all the pictures, honey. Go look at them all, and then show me the ones you like the most.”
Daddy stayed with her, and they moved from one picture to another. Momma smiled at some, and cried at some, and laughed at some. I loved it when Momma laughed. She didn’t laugh enough. Sometimes she didn’t laugh or smile for days. It made me really sad. It made me ask God to teach me how to make her laugh and smile again.
I did what Momma wanted me to. I wandered around among the pictures, and looked at them, to find at least one that I liked. A lot of them looked the same to me. Buildings, with some person in front of them. Lots of strange clothing on people. And things that looked like bed sheets blown into them by the wind. And big buckets of colored water dumped on them.
It was strange, and I didn’t get it. But I saw Momma liked the pictures, so I didn’t say anything about them.
Until I found a picture I didn’t understand. It had a pretty ballerina in it. She was so pretty, standing on her tiptoes, her back arched, her arms thrown back, and her head thrown back, and her hair all fluffed out behind her. She was in this cloud of red, like the same red when you cut your finger, or skin your knee, and bleed. I tried to figure that one out. What was it a picture of? I didn’t know.
So, I picked it as the picture I liked. And I did like the pretty ballerina in it. I wondered if I would ever be that pretty. And if Momma had been that pretty before she got sick.
Momma saw me standing in front of the picture, and she had Daddy bring her over to see what I’d found. “Did you find a picture you like?”
“Yes, Momma. I did.” I pointed at the picture. “She’s really pretty. I like her.”
Momma smiled. “Yes, she is.”
“Momma? What does the red stuff mean? I don’t understand the red stuff. It’s like it’s exploding out of her.”
Momma held my hand. “It’s symbolic, you know.”
“Sym-bol-ic?” That was a new word. I didn’t know that word. “It looks like blood is exploding from her, Momma. What does that mean?”
Momma put her arm around me. Which I thought was nice. I loved it when Momma hugged me. “Well, Sally. This is a special picture. It tries to capture what beauty is with the pretty ballerina. And she is beautiful, isn’t she.”
“But, the picture also tries to show that beauty like hers has a cost. A price. That our society makes her pay, just because she was born beautiful.”
“I don’t understand, Momma.” I looked at the ballerina. She had her eyes closed, and she wasn’t smiling. “It’s like she’s not having fun.”
“That’s right, Sally. That’s right. She’s not having fun. Because. She’s beautiful, and the world won’t let her have fun.” Momma hugged me tighter. “It’s a beautiful photograph. And it makes me wish you didn’t have to grow up, and learn what it’s saying.”
905 Words (Yes, I’m over the limit. So what?)
Miranda Kate‘s weekly short fiction challenge is in it’s 28th week. Unfortunately, this for the 27th week. This time, I saved the prompt for #NaNoWriMo, and this is a clip of the #NaNoWriMo story I’m working on. You can read about the challenge here. The picture was a perfect match to the story, so I had to wait to write. Please, go read Miranda’s short tale this week, and any others that showed up. They are always little works of art, crafted with words, meant to be shared, and enjoyed.