Lost or Found?
He flashed his broad, toothy grin to reward her for her sacrifice; his large brown eyes sparkling against his brown skin and black hair. He had talked her into going a couple blocks out of their way, to the playground; so that he could climb the jungle gym. Now he had reached the top, sheltered by his designer jacket from the cool New York City spring morning.
He didn’t mind that he was older than the other children navigating around the cool metal bars. He didn’t know or care about them. He came to listen to the chatter of their nannies. Their staccato, rat-ta-tat language and their laughter. They seemed to always be smiling, sharing, laughing, while their words melted together. He loved the way the language lilted and swayed with their smiles. He loved its rhythms, its soothing cadence.
Then those hazy, untouchable memories would appear. He called her Abuela and she was surrounded by other children that she also called mis hijos. Was it 2 or 3 or 4? Were they boys? Did he remember a pink bow? Were they all bigger? He could see her wide, lipsticked smile come in and out of focus. He remembered how she hugged him always talking, talking, talking while her perfume, smelling like the wisteria cascading over the playground fence, enveloped him. The boys, yes they were boys, climbing above him, taller, sharing French fries with him.
“Come Michael, we really have to get going. We are going to be late for Hebrew School.”
“Come on, 10 more minutes?” He pleaded. But he knew that it would be futile, so he jumped down, brushed the sand off his jeans and grabbed his mother’s hand.
“Where is my hug? You promised me.”
And as he hugged her, those memories faded back into the haze.