I was playing on the porch the afternoon the angels came and took my mama away.
School had just started. Johnnie Mae was waiting for me in the hall outside my classroom when the bell rang. Mrs. Weatherly, my teacher, liked books a lot and told the class that she would give us a sticker for each book we read and that we could pick out any sticker we wanted from the sticker basket and she would put it next to our name on the wall above the blackboard. Walking home, I told Johnnie Mae all about the books and the stickers and how I was going to read so many books that my stickers would go round and round the room. Johnnie Mae was walking real slow and I kept running back to catch up with her.
When we got home, she told me to play quietly on the porch, that she would bring me my snack.
"Your mama ain't feeling real good today and she's lying down on the bed so you be a good girl and play out here until she wakes up."
That summer, before school started, I played on the porch a lot. Sometimes, I played games with the sun's rays. Sometimes, I sat in the wicker rocking chair and looked at the books that Johnnie Mae and I checked out from the library. Sometimes, I waited for Johnnie Mae to call me into the house and tell me that my mama was awake and that I could go see her for a few minutes. If I was reading a book I really liked, I would bring the book with me and show it to her.
Johnnie Mae came out onto the porch with a plateful of apple slices slobbered with peanut butter and dropped into the wicker chair next to mine.
"Dr. Tom is upstairs with your mama, Molly."
She didn't say anything else after that, just sat for a few minutes, her eyes closed, her cheeks dark and shimmering. Then she hauled herself up out of the chair and returned to the house at a funereal pace.
Three figures in white swept past me and into the house. A slight breeze blew. The screen door slammed behind them. They rushed back out, spiriting mama with them. The door slammed again. I blinked my eyes and the white figures and mama were gone.
"Johnnie Mae," I called, "Where they taking mama?"
"The angels are taking her to be with them, Molly."
The front porch floods with afternoon sunlight, warming me with her bright yellow rays. When I feel really sad, I sit directly in her light and watch the sun fill me with yellow. Sometimes, if the sadness doesn't leave, the blueness and yellow mix inside me, turning me green.
My name is Molly. I am nine now. Mama missed my birthday. I play on the porch in the afternoon and wait for the angels to bring my mama back to me.
Holly Robinson lives in Portland, Oregon, writing laws by day to support writing short fiction and creative non-fiction by night. Her short fiction and creative non-fiction have appeared or are forthcoming in Long Story Short and Word Riot. E-mail: hollyr[at]speakeasy.net.