Thursday, February 18, 2010


Anna’s piece evolved on its own.  The direction it took even surprised me.  I only wanted to write about the new paint in our upstairs hall.  From there, Anna took over, and I actually started to cry. 

Anna:  I reach out and touch the wall, placing my open hand flat on it, feeling for the life that must be there.  The new paint shines even in the small halo of light from the sconce in the hall.  In the energy of the wall, I feel my father’s hands, three times the size of mine, rough knuckled, dry.  Able to reach halfway around my waist, and then met in the middle by the opposite hand, thumbs on one side and fingertips on the other. 
He painted the hall in an afternoon, strong, sure swaths of paint drawn by those hands, the roller an extension of him.  He is big, I am small.  He can do anything, while I am clumsy and can’t even paint my nails without dripping on the table and my mother crying, “Anna Titania Dorfman!  What did you do?” 
My father is certain, but I wander the house alone, touching walls and searching shadows for an answer to what?  I don’t even know the question.
Why am I here?
What did I do to deserve this?
Who am I today?
What did I do?
Why me?

Why him?

Why didn’t they come get me?  Why didn’t anyone know that I needed to be there, even if the ER doc said he was going to be fine.  My mother, my brother – okay, he’s only six, but still – my grandmother, someone should’ve said, “We’d better call Anna, just in case.  She loves her father more than anyone in the world, and she’d want to be here, even though he’s going to be okay.  She should be here.”
No one called.  I can see it, my grandmother trying to keep Aiden occupied with the odd things in her purse and promises of cookies.  My mother getting coffee.  Getting an extra cup for my father even though he just had his head stitched up and his arm set after the fall.  Even though his brain was secretly bleeding… but she didn’t know that (be fair, Anna).
He was just painting the porch!  He’d already painted the whole house, all but the stupid porch, and I was like…  I told him, “Dad, don’t forget about soccer.  Don’t forget you’re taking me out for pizza when we win.”
(Tell the truth Anna)
I told him “Mariah’s coming over, remember?  I don’t want her to think we’re –“  (sigh)  “Just could you paint the porch?  The outside, at least.  First impressions matter, Dad.  And please change your shirt before you show up at the game.  Take a shower, too.  Dad, I know it doesn’t matter to you, but how about you wear that team tee shirt I got you for your birthday, and don’t wear it when you paint!  Clean your fingernails or cut them or something, come on Dad!  I know, I know -- appearances aren’t important, blah blah blah, it’s what’s inside that counts.  Okay, Daddy, I love you.  Gotta go.”  I don’t know if I kissed him goodbye.
Why didn’t anyone come get me?
Why didn’t he tell them as soon as, before, why…
He should’ve said, “Anna should be here.  I want to see Anna.”
     He shouldn’t have let them tell him he was fine just because he was able to sit up and talk and sip the coffee my mother got and ask about my game and
     He shouldn’t have died.  He was strong, he was smart,  he was certain and wise and loving and his hands could reach all the way around my waist and the wall is cool as if he never touched it and I want my Daddy!  Please, please, please Daddy, I’m sorry, just come back to me, please.


  1. That is so very sad, and so powerfully written, Shelley. I love how you backed into it.