“C’mon!” she screeched, tugging at my skirt.
She’s only 4. Let her be 4. Don’t expect more of her. She’s 4.
I exhaled, surprised that I was even holding my breath, and extended my hand so she could tug on it instead of my clothes.
“Where are we going?” I cheerfully asked.
“Yay!” she exclaimed, and led the way… somewhere she was very excited about. She didn’t seem to notice I wasn’t actually curious.
I don’t remember 4. I have stories I’ve heard about being 4, but I don’t know that I believe them all. I don’t remember the hospital. I don’t remember the doctors. I don’t remember casts or tests or being under-anesthetized. I don’t remember 4.
As I allowed myself to be clumsily led to a grassy patch under a century-old tree, I realized all hope of keeping my outfit presentable was lost. Get over it. Go all-in. It’s just stuff.
“Where are we?” I marveled, trying to recall a time when I could get as excited about anyplace, ever.
“Sit!” she barked, plopping beneath the canopy of branches and leaves, unbothered by nature. Maybe even receiving its pull in magical ways. Her hands made their way to a Mason jar hidden like an Easter egg under the low bushes near the tree. The stretch she had to make to grab the jar made me want to feel that type of joyful reach.
I dutifully joined her on the ground, making sure not to notice her jar as she tucked it behind her.
“Is this your… house?” I struggled. Is she pretending to live here? Is this her special place? All of it sounded wrong in my head. I wanted her to label this experience for me.
She inspected the moss, the rocks, the blades of grass as if all of it were more luxurious than any plush carpet or blanket. As if she felt me think that, she ran her hand across a patch of the lawn our dad had probably mowed yesterday and insisted, “Let me show you!”
I arched a brow and leaned toward my baby sister, committed to the story she needed me to participate in, as she brought from behind her that jar she’d so eagerly extracted. The tinny sound of the lid against the threads on the glass. Her little fingers working to free the riches from the jar. Her concentration, her seriousness, yet… glee.
Focused. Passionate. Proud.
As she pulled from the jar a coin, a button, a rhinestone brooch; a Monopoly token, a shell, a marble… she announced each of the totems. She held each one up to feel that it was being appropriately appreciated. She placed one after the next along the clearing under the tree. Reached back to adjust the direction the racecar was facing. Pulled a piece of lint off the loose setting that caused our mom to reject the costume jewelry in the first place.
I could hear her humming softly, reverently, almost like there was some ceremony going on. This collection was in attendance of something happening. What is she showing me? Is this even for me?
At the end of her little song, my sister saw something on the ground a few feet away. Something she hadn’t seen before. After taking it all in, making a decision about it, and checking back with the committee of treasures, she jumped up and ran over to this feather. This small wisp of a feather, left behind.
She inspected it without touching it, then bent down to pick it up. She cupped it in her hands, peeked through the hole shape she made, then held her little hands-nest up to her ear as if the feather needed to share its story with her.
What am I feeling? We’re so close right now and I don’t even know her. What’s happening? What did I just say?
Back to the collection, sweet Em began putting each piece back into the jar. She took a moment to introduce the feather to its new friends. “I think sometimes you visit us,” she said, as she sweetly put the lid back on the jar. Oh, yes! I do! I do, I do, I do. More than anyone knows.
As Em carefully placed the jar back in its hiding place, I felt her warmth pull from me and her attention move on like a 4 year old’s does. She won’t remember this. Or she’ll share it with our parents and they’ll tell her it was a dream. Someday they’ll tell her it’s not healthy to keep these things in a jar out in the yard. I hope she won’t listen.
I feel as though she’s wiser than I was at 4. She’s intuitive. She’s aware. I don’t remember 4. But I’m certain I never connected in the way Em just did. Not even close, until I got here.
Tarot Spread 2
Queen of Wands, 2 of Discs, 3. The Empress
character, situation, lesson
queen = savvy diva
wands = fire, inspiration, physical, enthusiastic
Queen of Wands = rooted passion, ambition without competition
2 = balance, partnership, receptive
discs = earth, wealth, material, practical
2 of discs = Where to? Let’s go!
empress = abundance; warm, creative, maternal, nature-loving, generous
I’m intrigued by my decision to make the Queen of Wands the little girl, Em, yet telling the story from another POV.
This one feels different.
Not thrilled with the title. Wanted not to telegraph the ending but wanted something that had become ritualized, like a rock left on a headstone.
I’m looking forward to what’s next.
Thanks for reading!