That sweet-smelling spice that stirs into the froth.
I remember when my hair was down to my waist. It was when I smelled cinnamon in my grandmother’s house, the air rife with it at Christmas with gingerbread men baking in the oven.
The pajamas are scratchy, all heavy and cuffed, with a long zipper running up the front. The bottoms of the feet are padded, whispering under me as I walk from room to room.
The tree is blue. Ribbons, ornaments, white lights strung elegantly from top to bottom. The angel is on top. Everything is breathing, and the plastic on the table squeaks under my fingers. Plates of red, yellow, olive green pass through my mind, eyes flying open as the grainy crunch of warm bread fills my mouth.
I never ate much. It was always about the presents, the tearing, the ripping, the grabbing, the heart leaped up hard in the back of your throat, stomach gurgling with anticipation. Yet whatever lived inside those ornately wrapped packages is a mystery to me. I just see her face, pink lipsticked lips, short brown hair. And her smile. A grandmother’s protecting smile.
The pieces lie fragmented—sharp shards tossed askew on the open plain of my memory. I keep trying to put them back together. To reassemble that place, that last refuge of a lonely child. Where I was safe.
Where I wasn’t where I am now, which is the last place safe can ever be.