skewers in marshmallow

“Namaste. I see you,” she said, palms pressed together in front of her chest. Her thin, hairless arms and legs floated in the ballooned gray linen of her outfit like skewers in marshmallow.

The kid stared at her for a second, his eyebrow raised and head cocked to one side. “What are you, like some creepy witch or some shit?” His head told him to split, but his Pumas were cemented in place, weighed down by the buried curiosity of his heart. “What the hell are you talking about?” He struggled to maintain at arm’s length the memory of every adult in his life incessantly reprimanding him for his attitude.

“I see you,” she said, this time, allowing her limbs to fall where they would, relaxed. Each strand of her thick black buzzed hair jutted from her head like mini porcupine quills.

The kid was suspicious of that, and of her white rubber shoes. Yet her almond eyes shone, and in them, he saw a spark of something, or maybe someone, that was both unknown and equally familiar. He forgot himself for a moment. Then remembered. “What the hell are you talking about? Of course you see me – I’m standing right here.”

“You misunderstand me, young man,” she said gently, but with no loss of confidence or hint of despair.

“Well then enlighten me,” he said smugly.

She wanted to tell him that he wasn’t ready. After all, how could he understand? How could he know her journey? She’d hoped it wouldn’t take another lifetime to repair what they had lost, what she had given up 16 years before. She could see his heels rocking backward as if getting ready to turn. She sensed that whatever patience he might have had was running thin. She did not want to scare him off, yet she knew only one path through the pain. She persevered.

“Look into my eyes. I see you,” she said.

The kid looked away as though the sun got under the brim of his hat that he just had to adjust because in that split-second, he felt her see inside him like a pinprick to his core and couldn’t stand it. He brushed his jet-black straight bangs from his face and resumed his tough act. “What, you think you know me or something? I’ve never seen you before in my life,” he said.

“Yes you have. October 29, 1996.”

“Now you’re really creeping me out, lady. How’d you know my birthday?” he said, almost cutting her off. Chills went down his spine.

She stared back at him. He breathed. She waited. He stared back at her. She breathed. Their locked eyes cemented. He felt as though he was looking in a mirror. And as easily as the wind lifts a feather in the air, he understood: the woman who was standing there dreamlike before him was the one he had been missing since she’d left the side of his crib that morning he was too young to remember yet always carried in his bones.

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