Always Say by Kate Ladew

     Molly wishes her alive again and jumps as the door slides open.  

     “Hi, there,” her mother says.  

     “Knock next time!” Molly shouts. “You taught me that.”

     “Yes,” her mother’s apologetic, looking down at her bare feet.  “You forgot.”

     “I didn’t think you’d need them.”  

     “I didn’t think there’d be a next time.”

     Molly looks down, too.  “I wished you alive.”

     “I remember you wishing me dead a few times.”

     Molly sucks in a breath.  “I never meant it.”

     Her mother nods.  “I know.”

     There’s a pause as they both look up, at each other.  “How’d you get in my closet?”

     “You wished me, remember.”

     “I wasn’t sure it would come true.  And if it did,” Molly shrugs. “I was afraid it might be a Monkey’s Paw situation.  You might come back,” she shrugs again.  “Flattened.”

     “Well,” her mother’s arms and legs stretch into a star.  “Whatever’s the opposite of flat, I’m that.”

     Molly traces the outline with her eyes.  “Poet and don’t know it.”

     Her mother laughs, tilting her head to the side.  She gazes at her like a spark in a dark room. “You know it didn’t really come true.”

     Molly swallows, pressing her tongue to the roof of her mouth, to keep herself from crying.  “I know.”

     “You’re not the first,” her mother says.  “People rarely wish for things that can happen. Wishing is for the impossible.”

     “And you’re impossible?”  Molly asks.

     “Now,” her mother says.  “But I wasn’t always.”  And she’s gone.

     Molly looks at the darkness, a gap carved out of the middle in the shape of her mother.  She says, “How I wish wishes came true.  How I wish they lasted.  How I wish–” the closet door shakes.  “How I wish–” it slides open an inch.  “I wish–” another inch  “I wish–” fingertips curl around the wood.   “I–” a bare foot steps into the light.  “I wish,” Molly sighs, fluttering her lashes.  “I wish I might’ve said what I always felt when it mattered most.”  She looks at the pink toenails.  “Loud enough to be heard.  Again and again.  And never stopped.”  They curve into the wood of her bedroom floor.  “But I don’t wish you alive again.  I just wish you to know.  In all the world,” a tear slides into the slant of Molly’s chin as the pink toes relax.  “You moved me.  There was nothing I loved the way I loved you.” The tear falls, hitting the top of Molly’s own foot.  “And nothing I ever will again.”  The closet door shuts.  

     Always say, she tells the empty room.  Always say and you will always know.  They will always know.  The room pauses, waiting.  Everyone, Molly smiles and it’s sad.  And then, you will never have to wonder what they know because you said.  You said your whole heart.  Molly wishes the room filled with all the people she’s ever known.  It takes so much courage to say something twice.

About the contributor

Kate LaDew is a graduate from the University of North Carolina at Greensboro with a BA in Studio Art. She resides in Graham, North Carolina.

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