She watches intently as I place my oversized suitcase on the bed and slowly start to unpack. Her deep brown eyes have little stars in them, birthed from the howls of ravenous wolves. Sometimes I forget she is not my daughter, her complexion mimics mine so perfectly. I pull out an old pair of jeans, fold them, and put them in a drawer. She rubs her tiny flat nose with the back of her hand, leaving it lightly glazed and a bit shiny. I put a bra into my laundry bin. She picks at the edges of the black button eyes of the teddy bear she is holding tight against her chest. As I gradually approach the bottom of my bag, she starts to rock left to right, shifting her weight from one heel to the next, wearing down the soles of her Mary Janes, but my movements remain methodical. We’ve been through this before, and she knows none of it will do her any good until I am finished with my chore. She takes a sharp, loud breath and parts her lips as if she is about to speak. I shoot her a reproving glance and she immediately takes the cue. Her thin lips press together tightly and a subtle blush runs down her cheeks.
Finally, I have folded the last piece. It is tucked safely away in my dresser. By being meticulous, I am trying to teach her to value her possessions. Now comes the reward. I unzip the small inner compartment of my suitcase. It opens like a whispered secret. My fingers wrap tightly around the waist of a small plastic toy lion. The second she sees it the stars expand out of her eyes and her whole face bursts open with a blinding light. I reach over to hand her the lion in my fist, but instead, my knuckles graze the startlingly cold surface of the mirror.
Copyright ©2012, by E.K. Smith. All Rights Reserved.
E.K. Smith’s work has appeared in Misfits’ Miscellany and is forthcoming in other online publications. She is a new writer.