sunday Icee

‘Is it nighttime yet?’

‘Not yet.’

‘Good. We didn’t do anything we wanted to do yet.’

‘Are you crazy? We’ve been to breakfast, the playground, the candy store, the movie theatre, the pool and Nanny’s house.’ I swivel the rearview to show her the bags under my eyes. She’s unimpressed.

‘But we didn’t want to do those things.’

I redirect the rearview and am caught off guard by the person glaring back. I look like a cartoon villain: hunched shoulders, pale grimace, chipped talons. I didn’t know I was gripping the wheel like that. I also didn’t know I had that wrinkle in between my eyebrows.

‘Mila,’ I say, willing the clouds to drop carebears onto the freeway so as to take their attention off of me for one freaking second, ‘you are sucking the human out of me. I’m turning into Ursula.’

She and Lucy think that’s hysterical. ‘Ursula?’ they cry in unison.

‘Yes. I’m going to sprout tentacles and call upon the devils of the ocean to turn you into quivering weeds for my evil garden.’ They don’t respond. On the DVD player, Scooby Doo is eating a cheeseburger cake. ‘And then I will steal your voices and sing my way into fortune of which has never been imagined. With King Triton’s staff I’ll rule the earth and sea. And no one, NO ONE, will ever vomit or poop on me again. Mark my words.’

‘Mommy can we…mommy, mommy, mommy, mommy, mommy, can, can, can, can we….mommy….’

I hunch further and pull into the development. The home-schooling mother is on the corner with the sun in her hair, her daughters well-combed and laughing on their trikes. She waves and I burp.

‘Yes, Lucy. What is it, Lucy.’

‘Can I…mommy, mommy, mommy, can we…you didn’t…mommy…’

‘Lucy, you have my full attention. You may speak your sentence in its entirety whenever you wish. I am listening to you right now.’

Mila puts her hand on Lucy’s leg and translates. ‘Mommy, can we get Icees?’

I take three deep breaths. ‘Mila, I asked you at the gas station if you wanted anything. Both you and Lucy said no.’

‘We never went to the gas station.’

‘We did go to the gas station. I know because I cried when I saw that I spent eighty-five dollars at the gas station.’

She pursed her lips. ‘It’s Sunday and I want an Icee.’

I slump so far over I can smell Jack’s spit-up on my pants. For a few seconds I remain there in the driveway considering the piles of laundry, the overturned toy baskets and the dog-hair tumbleweeds that await me. ‘What do you say, Mila?’ I whisper.

‘It’s Sunday and I want an Icee. Please.’

I put the car in reverse. I don’t look at the golden goddess on the corner as we pass.

I do, however, steal another look in the rearview. Mila’s hand is still on Lucy’s leg, and her other is on Jack’s belly. God help me, I love them.

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