Why am I different? asked my 12-year-old.
She emitted a guttural hum as we held hands
entering the department store.
You’re my very special girl, I said.
I like you the way you are.
We passed a rack of flowered blouses
and she skipped a step, then walked around them.
Mom, these are so pretty! They’d look pretty on you.
I stepped aside to allow an elderly woman to pass
with her oxygen tank on wheels.
Let’s look at the picture frames, I said.
I want to frame your school photo.
She blinked her brown eyes hard at me,
and exhaled through her mouth loudly.
What color do we need?
Probably silver, I replied.
May I help you? asked the saleswoman.
Her lips bore creases of a smoker’s habit
and her yellow teeth caught my daughter’s eye.
We grinned at each other.
We wandered on and I picked up a pair of earrings
in her favorite color of pink.
A teenager with a pierced nose browsed next to us.
How tremendously tall she was, dwarfing me
even with her hunched posture.
We stood in line and bought the earrings.
The motherly salesclerk smiled.
Thith pink will look tho pretty on you, she lisped.
My daughter smiled back and cleared her throat twice.
Thank you, she answered.
I held her hand on the way out to the parking lot.
You know, most everyone has something to deal with, I said.
You’re not alone, not the only one.
We walked to the car, and this time when she skipped,
I skipped with her.
©2004 Diane Diamantis