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“Olivia!” I shouted. “What has gotten into you?”

She was just as I’d seen her moments before with her teeth on her bottom lip. “I didn’t do it,” she mumbled, for a minute releasing her lip from its punishment. Of its own volition my head cocked to the side and my eyebrows furrowed.

“It’s your fault anyway,” Olivia continued. “You messed up the pieces.”

“Messed up the pieces?” I responded. Olivia only pouted back at me.

“Fine, then you can stay in your room and you can play checkers by yourself.”  I slammed the door behind me and head toward the kitchen to make myself some tea. The counters were dirty. And there were dishes in the sink. Olivia’s crayons and drawings were piled up across the kitchen table. She must have made some of them in the short time I had been gone. There were a lot more than I remembered. I picked one up at random. It was a drawing of her and my mother. I wasn’t in the drawing, but they both looked so happy, just the two of them without me. And I cried.

*This is part 13 of a longer story. Continue here…

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