She has that voraciousness about children. She swoops in on them. Even I, in public was a beloved child. She'd parade me into town, smiling and teasing me, tickling me as she spoke with people on the sidewalks. When we got home, she'd trail off to her room like an unfinished sentence, and I would sit outside with my face pressed against her door, and replay the day in my head, searching for clues to what I had done to displease her.
I have one memory that catches in me like a nasty clump of blood. Marian was dead about two years, and my mother had a cluster of friends come over for afternoon drinks. For hours, the child was cooed over, smothered with red lipstick kisses, tidied up with tissues, then lipstick smacked again. I was suppose to be reading in my room, but I sat at the top of the stairs watching.
My mother finally was handed the baby, and she cuddled it ferociously. Oh, how, wonderful it is to hold a baby again! Adora jiggled it on her knee, walked it around the rooms, whispered to it, and I looked down from above like a spiteful little god, the back of my hand placed against my face, imagining how it felt to be cheek to cheek with my mother.