Under the Stars
My daughter and I are in a tent. We’re sweaty and tired, trying to sleep. Her father & I divorced two years back. This is my daughter’s second camping trip without him. The first, last year, was a disaster… pelting rain & wet dogs, and the fiancé I ended up hating.
All this afternoon, other parents kept joking, Is it time to turn in yet? A lot of times I feel I’ve ruined her life. It’s been a long, long day — hiking, cooking, comforting children. They are so excited to be in the woods until the sun goes down. Married or single, my misery remains about the same.
My stomach hurts, my beautiful daughter says. My head hurts. I can’t get comfy. Was it a bad idea to come here? Was it a bad idea to marry her father? A screech owl calls, breaking the quiet with startling beauty. Of course not. I have my daughter. I just don’t ever want to be that miserable & that alone again.
What’s that? she says, scared. Her fears appear and disappear just like that owl’s voice.
Just an owl, I tell her. I’m not a good mother. She’s eight, she can’t stay awake forever.
That wasn’t so bad after all, my beautiful little girl says in the morning. I am the opposite. I dream of peace but wake to fear.