ellie in the sun

Ellie is squinting in the sun.

Wild honey-red curls, pulling straighter under the weight of her ever-growing locks. Freckles gather on the bridge of her nose. Her blue eyes are framed by pale red lashes. The red hair isn’t going anywhere, for now.

Her perfectly arched eyebrows remind me of younger pictures of my mom. I examine Ellie as she speaks, looking for my own mother somewhere in the rise of Ellie’s eyebrows, the perfect span of her nose or the sparkle in her eyes.

Ellie holds her self upright, wound-up in a way, observing and considering. Today, the object of her evaluation is a playground with an intentionally-rickety bridge and several sets of monkey bars and slides of all kinds. When she thinks no one is watching, she moves like a cat. She is faster than she lets on. Almost rhythmic in her movement. When she senses someone is watching (me) her movements become more childlike, her speech a little more baby.

She is not ready to grow up today.

Relief.

Ellie is squinting in the sun.

She is watching me as much as I am watching her. We are mirrors, reflecting each other’s imperfect attempts at perfection. No matter how I’ve tried to subdue my own anxiety or self-doubt or fear, she found it in her DNA, woven in with my mother’s eyebrows and my freckles and a distant ancestor’s red hair. She examines the doubt, the fear – the whole package – like a crystal in the sunlight, turning and turning and turning. Sometimes she turns the crystal over so frequently in her mind that I am the only one who can help her put the crystal down.

Ellie is squinting in the sun.

She says things sometimes that sound like me and then she looks at me, watching for my reaction.

Is this OK, Mom?

Yes.

Ellie is squinting in the sun. She stops between monkey bars and slides to tell me everything she learned about honeybees as she watches a honeybee in nearby a patch of clover. Nonfiction, she explains. The word is big and bulky in her mouth, but said slowly and emphatically nonetheless.

And she is off. She climbs a ladder, turns and pauses for a breath before flying across another set of monkey bars, her long limbs swinging.

She laughs and it is bells ringing across the meadow of the school yard.

Ellie is squinting in the sun, forever in my mind.

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3 thoughts on “ellie in the sun

  1. I always read your words, but unlike so many other writers, I see them too. Simply beautiful. Such a talent.

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