The light was bright yet diffused through the white sheet they hid beneath. Her mother was lying upon her side, her body making a space for the little girl to be. The little girl never felt she was where she should be, except in the rare moments here, a fragile place of temporary respite.
Their foreheads rested against one another’s and the little girl breathed in the breaths her Mother gave into the world, giving her own back, creating a cycle of secret, safe proximity. One of her Mother’s arms bent beneath her, so that her palm cupped the little girls cheek. Her free arm held the little girl close, pale fingers drawing soft circles on the little girls bare back. Every so often her fingers would find a spot that they decided to massage and sooth. The little girl could hear the comforting crash of waves nearby and smell the salty air mixed with their own. Breath in. Breath out.
Her Mothers face was as close as it could be and the little girl tried to count the pale sprinkling of freckles that could only be seen when she was very very close like this. The little girl loved the freckles. She did not have any on her own face. The little girls skin was smooth and olive toned. Her Mother was as pale as cream, with shifting blue eyes that changed with the light and her mood. Right now they were closed but the little girl knew they would be clear and dark when she opened them. She studied her Mothers’ face often. In moments like this and in the moments she was not supposed to see. In pain, in pleasure, in fear, in sleep and in that place she went when all she wanted was held within the needles the little girl hid when she could. Breath in. Breath out.
Everything about her Mother seemed different, foreign and special. The little girl was all bare thin dark limbs. Her cheeks were broad, her eyes almond-shaped and slightly slanted, she had brown hands with pale palms, nut-brown nipples and kinky dark brown curls. The little girl thought her mother was the most beautiful woman in the world and was thankful that she herself was ugly in comparison. The men who came thought she was lovely too, and the little girl thought this must mean she was not, since she was so different. This gave her some comfort even while she felt sorry for her mothers beauty. Breath in. Breath out.
Her Mother’s fingers left her back to trace her ears and trail along her nose. The little girl knew her nose and ears were the same as her Mother’s, she knew the silent gentle touch was reminding her of their sameness.
“You are my Wild Little Thing, my Beautiful Wild Little Thing “ her Mother’s words were whispered in the sacred space of cotton, light and shared breath.
The wild little thing told her Mother that she did not want to be beautiful. She wanted to be wild and free and swim in all of the oceans in all of the world.
Her Mother’s forehead furrowed, creating a crease not quite centered between her brows.
“Why can’t you swim in all of the oceans AND be beautiful?”
The little girl thought about this for some time and petted her Mothers pretty pale face with her own small thin fingers.
She told her mother that she liked being wild and free and she didn’t think you could be those things AND be beautiful. Everyone tried to keep you when you were beautiful, and the little wild thing didn’t want to belong to anyone or anyplace. When she thought about being beautiful, she felt arms holding her down, her breath being taken away and pain. She thought being beautiful hurt too much, she would rather have the sea and freedom.
Silent ears rolled down her Mothers face, somehow making her even more lovely.
“Then you will stay my Wild Little Thing as long as you want and I promise to show you all of the shores you can explore , okay?”
The wild little thing, the little girl , knew her mothers words were as substantial as the grains of sand being pulled in by the tide. She knew that there was only this small space where their breath and touch anchored her to this moment. But she nodded against the hand of her Mother and said “yes, okay” to the promises that would never be kept.
As her Mother’s eyes drifted shut the little wild thing left the confines of the beloved tiny kingdom of two, beneath the soft sheets, in her Mothers arms. She ran to her ocean and began to race with the receding tide, playing a game only she knew the rules too. Her dark slanted eyes streamed silent rivers, but only the waves saw,so it was okay. She dove into the water, floating on its surface when she came back up and pretended the sky and water were the whole of the world and that she would never be so unlucky as to be Beautiful.