It was a Sunday morning. Church day. Things were always scary on church day. She never knew when mommy would get mad at them all.
Mommy had to get all three kids, and daddy, ready for church. Everyone had to have breakfast, but that was usually cereal. Everyone had to have their Sunday clothes on. And little brother had to have his diaper changed.
Daddy usually sat around reading the paper and drinking coffee, and got dressed at the last minute.
This morning, the sun was shining through the windows, and there were sunbeams in the air. She could look through them, and see the dust swirling in the light. She waved her hand, and watched the dust swirls break apart. She moved to sit in the sun and get warm. She was always cold, always trying to get warm.
She walked into the bathroom, where daddy was getting ready. He was shaving his cheeks smooth. She liked kissing him when his cheeks didn’t hurt her. Even if they weren’t a family that kissed and hugged, sometimes she sneaked daddy-kisses anyway, even though mommy was sure to yell at her if she saw her do it.
Daddy finished shaving, and put something on his cheeks. The scent reached her nostrils, and caught her attention. Her eyes got wide. Oooh, it smelled good. It made daddy smell good. Really good. Yummy.
Then she really kissed daddy on the cheek. Right there, in the bathroom. And all morning, wherever he was. She kept coming up to him, shyly, slowly, at first. She would put her arms around his neck, burrow her nose into his cheek, and kiss. And then just lie there, breathing. And he let her stay on his lap, just breathing. He never did that.
But after a while, daddy got annoyed with her. Why are you so kissy today, he asked. Because you smell good, she said. He laughed.
She stayed close to him for the rest of the morning, as mommy kept getting her brothers ready for church. Then mommy called her to get her dressed. She suffered the attention, and as soon as mommy was done, she went off to find daddy again.
Daddy was dressed in his Sunday suit now. He still smelled good, and now he looked good. She went up to him on the sofa and leaned over the arm to kiss him again.
And that’s when disaster struck.
Because daddy had put his coffee cup down on the arm of the sofa. And she knocked it over, right into his lap.
He jumped up, shouting at her, upset with her. She just stood there, eyes downcast, wanting to cry, but not doing it. Then mommy found out what happened, and she yelled even louder than daddy.
There was talk between mommy and daddy about what he could wear, but he only had the one suit, and the rest of his clothes were for work and had paint on them from painting his signs.
There was nothing to be done, daddy couldn’t wear painted up clothes to church, so he had to stay home. Funny thing, he didn’t look too awfully upset about staying home.
But mommy was fiercely angry. She was stuck taking all three kids to church all by herself. And everything she did for the rest of the day made mommy angry. Every time mommy looked at her, she could see it in her eyes. And mommy picked at everything she did all day long.
She retreated into herself, and tried not to notice mommy. She made herself small, and stayed out of the line of fire. Or tried to. But mommy had a way of saying things when she was angry. Things that hurt. Things that were loud enough for other grownups to hear. Things that embarrassed her, and made the grownups stare. And mommy had to explain why daddy wasn’t in church. It was all her fault, and mommy made sure everyone knew.
But she kept wondering why everyone was mad at her. After all, it was daddy who put his coffee cup on the sofa. Mommy would never let her put her kool-aid cup on the sofa.
All she wanted to do was kiss daddy. What was so wrong with that?
She doesn’t remember ever kissing daddy again. She must have, right? But she doesn’t remember it…