The following essay appears in our Summer 2017 digital issue. The entire issue is available for immediate download.
If you will just hold still I’ll brush your hair until every snarl is gone, oh try not to cry. I torment her until she screams and runs away and I never see her hair smoothed of snarls. Eventually I say she can be in charge, I resign; her options are she does it (or doesn’t), or someone else does it—but it’s not going to be me.
A perfect fit, a perfect glow, if I can hold my breath while the dental hygienist takes the X-ray, it will be good, it will be perfect, I will only have to do it once. Hold the plastic bit inside your cheek, ignore the pain, hold still don’t breathe. Okay great, now relax (back to being alive). For a moment in the chair I thought I was dead. I pretended to be perfect.
“No one knows everything,” I tell my daughter. Not her teacher, not me. Eventually she says these words back to me. I ready her for a life of learning. If no one knows everything, then maybe I can still learn to play piano, or drive stick shift. (And if no one knows everything, then it’s also true that nothing is perfect, and that includes me.)
REBECCA KUDER’s short story story, “Rabbit, Cat, Girl,” appeared in Year’s Best Weird Fiction, vol. 3. Her essays have appeared in The Manifest Station, Jaded Ibis Press, Lunch Ticket, and The Rumpus. She lives in Yellow Springs, Ohio, with her husband, the writer Robert Freeman Wexler, and their daughter. Rebecca blogs at www.rebeccakuder.com.