Julia Levy

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I always liked the color red because it’s like my cheeks in the winter. And it’s like strawberries, or balloons from the dentist that burst because they’re so full or fire trucks that go screaming down streets, yelling at everyone. That’s why I eat a red popsicle every Saturday.

So, today I am sitting on the peeling porch steps licking my red Popsicle and trying to catch the big, juicy, drips before they get on my clean fingers. It is very warm out this afternoon so my Popsicle is melting quickly. In the kitchen, Mommy is washing the dishes. She is humming a tune that I have never heard. Mommy has such a pretty voice. When she sings to me at night I always fall right asleep. In the driveway, I can see Daddy throwing his shiny leather suitcases into the back of his truck.

When I was little I would hide in one of Daddy’s suitcases all day, waiting for him to get home from work. Part of the reason I did this was because I like the smell of leather. It is fresh and crisp and makes me think of new cars.  The other reason I did it was to see the look on Daddy’s face when he opened up his suitcase and saw me inside. I would jump up and yell, “Surprise!” and then he would pick me up and twirl me around. I liked when he did this because the whole world turned into one big blur except for Daddy. Like it was only me and him in the whole world and he would always look at me like that. It was worth it even though I sometimes felt a little sick.

Now Mommy has stopped washing the dishes and she is standing behind me watching Daddy, too. Mommy still has her funny yellow rubber gloves on. They make me think of Big Bird. I wonder where Daddy is going and why he needs all his suitcases. I think maybe he is going on a business trip. When he goes on business trips he brings me back lots of presents, but I still don’t like it when he’s gone. I pick at the porch step with my finger until a flake of the old yellow paint comes off.

I remember when we painted the porch. Mommy said she wanted some color in her life, so me, Mommy and Daddy opened a big can of bright yellow paint. I didn’t really know what she meant by “wanting color in her life.” There are lots of colors in my life, like red fire trucks. Maybe Mommy has never seen a red fire truck.

“It looks like the lines they put in the middle of the roads,” I said. Mommy laughed and said, “Our porch will be unforgettable.” We painted for a long time. I liked painting because Daddy said I was good at it. It smelled good too. When we were finished I was tired and we all put our handprints in the corner so we would always remember the day we painted the porch.

That was two years ago. Things are different now. I look up from the porch when I hear the sound of Daddy’s truck starting. I have always liked Daddy’s truck. It is big and red like the ones in the TV commercials. The ones in the commercials are cleaner though. I like it best when Daddy lets me sit in the front. It makes me feel bigger and older and special.

For as long as I can remember, Daddy has driven his truck to work every day at exactly 7:30 in the morning. I remember this because 7:30 is when my favorite TV show is playing. A while ago Daddy started coming home later and later. There were a few nights when I’m not sure if he came home at all. I hate going to bed before he gets home because I don’t feel safe without knowing he is there. I’d lie in my astronaut covered blankets waiting to hear his truck rumbling into our driveway. I’d trace my fingers over the stars on my covers and pull them over my head pretending I’m in space. I’d listen for the thump of his boots, and the screech of the screen door. On nights like this Mommy and Daddy would fight. They would yell about things that I did not understand, and their voices would carry up to me, but I always pretended to be asleep.

I look up and Daddy’s truck is driving away and it is only the size of a Skittle and I can cover it with my pinky. Then it turns the corner so I can’t see it.

“Where’s Daddy going?” I ask Mommy. I notice her eyes are the same color as my red popsicle, which has now dripped all over my hands so my fingers are stuck together. I feel bad that I got my clean fingers stuck together, but I think that sometimes it’s impossible to keep things together, like popsicles on a hot day.






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