“Why can’t I stay at home?” Zinny asked dejectedly.
Hannah answered my rote, “You’re still too little to stay at home by yourself.” Moving automatically, she grabbed a stocking cap from the hook by the door and shoved the hat down over her daughter’s mess of curly hair.
“Why can’t daddy watch me?” Zinny asked next.
“Because dad’s not home right now,” Hannah said, grabbing the bright purple coat from its hook and draping it over Zinny’s shoulders.
“But I want him to be home.”
Hannah restrained a sigh, saying simply, “I know, darling.”
Zinny looked up with large eyes that her mother refused to meet and asked, “Where is daddy?”
Hannah knelt to help her daughter with her zipper. “He had to go far away for work, remember?”
“He’s always far away at work,” she groaned.
“Yes.” Hannah yanked the zipper, and it didn’t move. She yanked again.
“I just want him to be home again.”
“Yes Zinny,” Hannah said through gritted teeth, “I know.” She tugged the zipper pull with short sharp movements.
“But why is he not home?”
“Because he’s NOT” Hannah shouted. They were on the same level, face to face, eyes filling up with tears.
* * *
Story by Gregory M. Fox