Cecilia roamed barefoot through Hartley’s room, looking for it. Every few minutes she felt dizzy and had to sit down on the pink carpet.
She had eaten wheat crackers with blueberry jam and water with a teaspoon of sugar for three days straight. She liked the process of painting the crackers and soiling the water. She liked the repetition. She liked digging the crackers into the roof of her mouth and licking the small sores that formed.
After about seven attempts, she found it — the clay angel she had made for Hartley. The angel had asymmetrical pink wings, a red sun face, and blue and purple flower patterns in its center. Cecilia held the angel in the middle of her chest, inhaling sharp, staccato breaths. She remembered the way Hartley’s smile reached her eyes as she traced the patterns with her fingers. It was the first time Cecilia had seen Hartley happy since their parents had explained what metastasize meant.
Cecilia laid her head onto the pink carpet that still smelled like Hartley. She dug the three edges of the left wing into her hand. She watched the pale circles they traced onto her skin reappear and disappear.
She went to the kitchen hours later to have dinner. She heard her voice, soft and squeaky, respond to her parents’ questions. Yes, she would eat the chicken and yellow rice. No, she wanted to eat alone. No, she didn’t want to talk about it. No.
She stood in the doorway until she heard their bedroom door click shut. She put the chicken and rice into a ziplock bag. She opened the back door halfway, so that it wouldn’t creak. She untied the black plastic bag in the trash can outside and slid the food in the middle of it. She wiped her hands against her pants, and ashamed about what the angel had just witnessed, she whispered sorry before she went back inside.
She sat the clay angel on the leather kitchen chair and then sat in the chair across from it. She had to push her chair a foot away from the table to see the tiny angel. She made wheat crackers with blueberry jam and water with a teaspoon of sugar. She liked the repetition. She painted, soiled, and chewed, noting that if she tilted her head at a slight angle, tears crept in her mouth and dulled the metallic taste of blood the sores caused.
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