Looking out the front window the little girl says, “I want to cross over.”
Mommy says, “When Jacky gets home from kindergarten.”
Jacky is the little girl’s best friend. His older brother Ricky gives her piggy back rides and makes her fly by holding her hands and spinning around till both are dizzy. The little girl’s doll is named Mary Lou after Jacky’s sister who babysits. Jacky’s brother Peter doesn’t count. He’s still a stinky baby.
After lunch Mommy crosses the little girl over the straight country road where cars come fast over the hill. Mommy sits in the kitchen with Louise and sips coffee from a cream colored cup with raised ceramic cherries dripping down the side. The little girl sits on mommy’s lap and tries to pick the cherries off the matching saucer.
Nana sits in the living room in a nubby brown armchair next to a bird cage. Nana lifts the embroidered cover off the bars, “Come hear my canaries.” The little girl stands in front of the narrow fireplace and listens to the birdies sing.
When Jacky calls, she runs up the steep stairs to his attic bedroom. There is a toy box under the window. The little girl lifts the lid. Nothing inside but a dirty argyle sock. Tiny cowboy boots lay on the wooden floor. A shiny cap gun peeks out from beneath one of the twin beds. Its stiff little holster sits atop Jacky’s blue chenille spread. A red bow and arrow sits on Ricky’s rumpled covers. Another arrow tipped in a blue suction cup sticks to the window. The little girl picks up a tambourine on the braided rug and shakes its jingles. In the hallway that leads to Mary Lou’s room, there are metal roller skates that adjust with a key. The little girl goes through the open door and gasps at the black patent leather tap shoes on the floor. She inserts her tiny toes and pulls on the black gross grain ribbons to keep them on. Clunk, clunk,clunkity clunk. As she crosses the floor, she spies a chrome baton with white rubber nubs at each end. Beside it are white majorette boots with tassels. The little girl pulls off the taps, puts on the calf-height boots, and tosses the baton towards the ceiling. It falls with a thud as Jacky fires the cap gun. Pow, pow!
Downstairs Mommy calls it’s time to go home, but the little girl doesn’t want to leave this tiny house that smells like diapers and spilled bird seed. She doesn’t want to leave smiling Louise with her hair tied up in a kerchief, her hands in dirty dish water. She doesn’t want to leave wrinkled Nana and the lemon yellow birds that sing, the toy box and its spilled treasure. She begs for a brother, wherever they come from, so she won’t have to cross over for a playmate to the house that feels like Christmas every day of the year.