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Small Waves

Story by John Sperling (Read author interview) December 15, 2006

My daughter became the moon one day. I knew it was coming, but I didn’t expect it to happen as quickly and easily as a baby tooth slipping free.

It was a Saturday; the nudge of a wet finger woke me from a nap when I shouldn’t have been sleeping. Celeste stood white and fat in front of me, toweling off after a run through the sprinklers.

“You’re glowing,” I said.

“What’s glowing mean?”

I brought her to stand with me in front of the full-length mirror, and I took the towel from her. “Do you see the white part around you, like a light bulb?”

“Uh-huh.” She turned one way, then the other, admiring herself. The pink cord tying her Minnie Mouse halter top seemed to deepen in color; my daughter became white as salt before our eyes.

“You see,” I told her, “you are not becoming the moon proper, gray and crater-marked, and cold. You are growing full and white and warm like the moon in the picture books.” I beeped her nose with my index finger and when she laughed, beams raced out of her mouth and bounced around the living room.

“Does it mean that I am sick?” She raised her arms in a shrug, and even as she did this, she became rounder, her legs shortening. She was beginning to look rather like Humpty Dumpty.

“No, not sick,” I cautioned. “You are becoming something else, something just as wonderful as a little girl.” One of her shining arms disappeared inside her.

“Can I still live here with you and Ellie?” she called out, as the other arm shrank into her body.

“I don’t know, peanut.” Both of her feet curled under her like ribbons, but she didn’t fall. She bobbed in the air in front of me. “I don’t know.”

“Oh,” she said.

That was a long time ago. Celeste is still here, floating in the middle of our living room, causing the dog to howl occasionally. Once in a while we run into trouble because she gets caught up with the track lighting, and I have to nudge her loose with the broom.

I know she doesn’t belong in the house; many times I’ve planned to take her outside and release her to the sky. But I always decide to keep her with me one more day.

Now, when night comes, I get myself a cup of tea and sit in my recliner. I think to myself, that’s my daughter there, so bright and charming, defying gravity, making small waves in the aquarium, surprising the fish.

About the Author

A short story of John Sperling’s will appear online in the next issue of Swink. He is 42 and lives in Los Angeles with his eighteen-pound cat.

This story appeared in Issue Fifteen of SmokeLong Quarterly.
SmokeLong Quarterly Issue Fifteen

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