It’s probably best, I say, searching for a but that never comes.
He asks if I remember a telephone on his teacher’s desk. I close my eyes trying to envision his classroom. A paper mâché solar system emerges in my mind. The Southern sun steaming through old, airy windows. The scent of number two pencils mixed with the familiar smell of paint drying on canvas. I tell him yes; I remember the phone on his teacher’s desk.
It sits next to the picture of his family.
My son nods in agreement. Tells me the teachers have telephones so they can communicate with the office. And also for emergencies.
I move quickly to wrap my arms around him. It’s involuntary, instinctual. I smell the watermelon and the sweat. I wonder if he’s brushed his teeth. I hug him tight and remember my daughter. The images of all the ultrasound photos unfold inside of me. Holding her for the one and only time. I hug my son. I wonder if he’ll have nightmares tonight. Wonder if I should tell him the cicadas last came the year his baby sister died. It was a mass emergence. A different brood than the years before. But he’s right, they were there, for a short period of time, I remember them. I wonder if he remembers his baby sister. My son squirms in my arms. I let go, and he’s gone.
Melissa Goodnight earned her M.A. in Creative Writing from University of North Carolina at Charlotte and is currently an MFA student at Mississippi University for Women. She lives in Atlanta and writes on her blog.