Catching the Wind
Piper held her hand out the window again.
“I’ve already told you not to do that,” the little girl’s mother said sternly. “Roll the window up.”
Piper frowned and did as she was told, her eyes gazing up and out, looking toward the sky.
Another weekend trip to her grandmother’s house, another job interview for her mother; Piper didn’t like road trips, or trips of any kind, especially ones where she had to stay at someone else’s house.
Piper hugged her mother, rolled her eyes and kissed her cheek.
“I’ll be back Sunday night to get you, okay? Be good for Nana this time.”
Piper promised but crossed her fingers behind her back. She didn’t like Nana. Nana was bitter and mean, didn’t like Piper because she looked like her mother and not her father, who was Nana’s only son. Nana’s only son had gone to Heaven, Piper’s mother had said. Piper’s Daddy had gone up, up, and away, into the sky.
Piper watched her mother hurry down the walk, climb into the car, and drive away down the road. She watched the driveway long after she’d gone, ever hopeful that she’d come back and not go to the job interview. Besides, she never got the job, anyway.
Sometimes Piper wondered if her mother was lying. Maybe she wasn’t going on a job interview, after all. Maybe she was visiting up, up, and away, to see Daddy.
Piper wanted to go, too.
She gnawed on the celery stick and finished her glass of water, put her dishes into the sink. Nana never had any good snacks. Piper’s Daddy would sneak downstairs for cookies and milk and share with her (her mother didn’t know); Piper liked nights like those.
She brushed her teeth and crept down the hall, mindful of her footsteps past Nana’s room. Nana went to bed early, and whenever Piper stayed at her house, she lay awake half the night in the cramped guest room, looking out the window through the tinted lace curtains toward the sky.
“Up, up, and away,” she mumbled before closing her eyes.
Piper woke to hear pots and pans banging in the kitchen, and headed downstairs to find the usual, oatmeal, on the table. Piper ate and then went outside to walk by the creek.
The sun was warm and bright, and Piper danced in circles, her arms stretched high. Sometimes she imagined that she was a bird and could fly, could float on the wind. She imagined that the wind would take her up, up, and away, to her father.
Piper woke up from a nap when her mother arrived. She and Nana said very little to each other, and it was only when they were long out of the neighborhood did Piper’s mother speak.
“I got the job, Pep!” her mother exclaimed through a grin. “Now we can finally move and get you into a good school!”
Piper only half listened as she rolled down the window.
“We’ll rent an apartment and set up house, you can start school…maybe even invite friends over.”
“What’d’ya think, kiddo?”
Piper was quiet a moment, and then looked at her mother.
“Does the wind blow up?”
Piper’s mother smiled. “The wind blows up and down and sideways…in every direction.”
“But does it blow up?” Piper asked again, and her mother smiled.
They were quiet as the car rolled down the highway, toward their new life, and Piper put her hand out the window, letting the wind blow her fingers before cupping her hand.
“How many times have I told you not to do that?” Piper’s mother asked.
She thought a moment.
“Pep, why do you keep doing that?”
Piper looked at her.
“The wind blows up.”
“Daddy is up.”
Piper’s mother swallowed. “Yes.”
“I’m trying to catch the wind so’s I can go up.”
Piper’s mother broke then, tears streaming down her face, and she pulled the car off the road and shut off the engine.”
“Baby, you can’t go up to see Daddy.”
“But he’s in the wind.”
“I suppose that he’s in everything, now,” her mother said, half to herself, and Piper smiled and patted her mother on the back.
“Then if I catch the wind, I can catch part of him, too!”
Piper’s mother dried her tears and nodded, and started the car.
When they got back on the road, Piper’s mother rolled all of the windows down and stuck her hand out.
Piper smiled at her.