goldfish and picture books.

by s.m.


Upstairs, she watched as Leo changed into his Toy Story pajamas and brushed his teeth, standing on a stool so he could reach the sink.  He had a goldfish bowl on the vanity and he slowly and deliberately counted out six fish flakes and sprinkled them on the surface of the water.

“Do you remember when we went to the aquarium?” Francesca asked, gently mussing his hair.

“Yes,” Leo said pointedly.  “I got the fish from Daddy,” he continued.

“What’s his name?”

“Luke Skywalker.”

“You named your fish Luke Skywalker?” she asked, trying to suppress a laugh.

“Yes.  He’s my favorite Jedi.”

They walked back to Leo’s bedroom, decorated with posters of the solar system and framed pictures of him at different ages, with Ricci and Giulietta.  For a brief moment, Francesca wondered again if this is what her child would have been like–precocious and sweet, sensitive and blond and curious.  She picked up Leo and hugged him tightly.

“Ouch, Zia Francie,” he kicked against her.

“Okay, okay,” she said, releasing him onto a beanbag chair.  “What book do you want me to read?”  She should have brought him a new book, she thought.  She hadn’t had a chance to pick up anything special for him.

“This one,” he said, selecting a hardcover picture book.  Jumanji.  It had been one of her favorites.

“‘Now remember,’ Mother said, ‘your father and I are bringing some guests by after the opera…'” She began reading, nestled into the beanbag chair next to him.  She finished reading the book even though he had already fallen asleep, then she picked him up and tucked him gently into bed, kissing his forehead before she left.