Lily’s Eyes

Posted on August 12, 2010

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The grown-ups sat around the dining room table, talking. Lily sat under it, surrounded by the forest of their legs. They thought that she, being only four years old, couldn’t understand them yet. But she listened to every word they said.

“It’s just creepy.” That was Auntie Margaret, Mommy’s sister. Lily looked at her shapely legs wearing silk stockings. She wore black shoes with thin, high heels. “Really, Janet, how do you put up with it? The child just looks at you like she knows everything you do.”

“She’s a smart girl.” Uncle Perry, Margaret’s new friend, wasn’t really Lily’s uncle. His pants were gray and shiny. His shoes were shiny, too. Lily looked down at them and could see her face, tiny in their gloss. “Maybe you’re hiding something you’d be ashamed for a kid to see.” Everybody laughed.

“She’s an old soul.” Mommy wore jeans and the pink sneakers Lily had picked out for her in the store. “I know she’s been here before. Maybe she can see right into your soul. I could tell you stories–”

“Oh, not the airy-fairy stuff, now.” Daddy wore jeans, too, and the old loafers Mommy wanted to throw out. He sat with his legs wide apart, one touching Mommy’s leg and the other stretched out next to Lily. “That’s just make-believe. The kid just likes to observe things. Maybe she’ll be a profiler for the FBI one day.”

Lily tugged on Daddy’s shoe, and he jumped and pulled his leg back. He sat up straighter in his chair.

“Crap, I forgot she was under there.” Lily giggled. Auntie crossed her legs and pointed them toward Uncle Perry.

“What’s she even doing under the table? One of us could kick her by accident. Why don’t you go play somewhere else, Pickle?”

“Leave her alone, Margaret. She’s not hurting anything down there. Just be careful and don’t poke anybody, okay, sweetheart?”

“Okay, Mommy.”

But Auntie Margaret and Uncle Perry pushed back their chairs and took their legs away.

“We have to go anyway,” Auntie said. “We promised Jake we’d go to his party. It’s going to be lots of fun. Too bad you couldn’t find a sitter and come with us, you old settled people.”

Mommy’s foot tapped a few beats. Lily knew Mommy didn’t want Auntie to go. But Mommy got up, and so did Daddy. Lily crawled out from under the table.

She looked up at Auntie as she put on her fancy black coat. It matched her shoes. Uncle Perry helped her. He looked like the shark she saw on Animal Planet the other day. Auntie looked at her, and for an instant before she smiled, Lily saw something dark in her face, under the makeup. Lily didn’t like that. It meant trouble was coming to Auntie.

“You better not go to the party,” Lily said, and everybody looked at her. Auntie rolled her eyes, and Mommy looked worried. Daddy and Uncle Perry shrugged their shoulders. Auntie came and bent down and pinched Lily’s cheek.

“And why ever not, Pickle? We’re just going to have some fun. There’s nothing wrong with that.” Auntie straightened up and smoothed her hair.

“But it won’t be fun,” Lily said. She didn’t know how to tell Auntie what she could see plain as day.

“But I’ll be with Perry. He’ll protect me from the mashers.” Auntie laughed, but she was nervous. Lily looked at Uncle Perry again. He really did look like a shark.

“No, he won’t,” Lily said. Uncle Perry was looking at her now. He looked hungry, even though they just had dinner. Mommy must have seen it, too, because she came and picked Lily up and held her close.

“You could stay a while longer,” Mommy said to Auntie. “What’s one party? And how often do we get to spend time together anymore?”

But it was too late. Lily saw the dark spread from Auntie’s face until it covered all of her.

“No, we have to go. I’ll call you tomorrow, Sis. Maybe we can have a girls’ day and get you that makeover you’ve been needing so long.” She kissed Mommy’s cheek and left red lipstick on it.

Uncle Perry came and ruffled Lily’s hair. Lily felt Mommy’s arms tighten around her.

“You’re a witchy little girl, you know that? You shouldn’t say things just to scare people.” He laughed. “Thanks for the dinner, Janet. Nice to see you again, Tom.”

They left, and the door shut behind them. Daddy went to clean up the kitchen. It was his turn, since Mommy had cooked a big meal. Mommy put Lily down.

“Am I a witch, Mommy?” Mommy bent down and kissed the top of her head.

“Don’t listen to Perry,” she said. “You are a very special girl, though.”

She sat down on the couch and Lily jumped up to cuddle next to her.

“I’m sorry I couldn’t stop her from going,” Lily said. Mommy hugged her.

“No, honey, you did great. Auntie never listens to anyone. You know, I forgot to tell Perry that when I went to get the wine out of the car earlier, I accidentally broke his taillight. After the party, the cops will pull them over for that. Perry will act all shifty, and the cops will notice he matches a description. Then they’ll look in his trunk… and then Auntie will listen.” Mommy smiled, and Lily smiled, too.

“You’ve got my eyes, you know,” Mommy said. “Time for bed, young lady.”

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