boy-529065_640I’m small. So short I can’t see over the new island installed in the kitchen remodel.

Why it’s called an island, I don’t know. Though I’m only four, I’ve been to Hawaii. I disagree that we have an island in our kitchen, when it should be in the middle of the pool in our backyard. What we have is a block because that’s what it does.

I ran into the island that should be called a block once—only once—as I tore into the kitchen to get my morning milk and muffin. The bump flourished on my forehead for days. I didn’t want a Band Aid to hide my trophy; the bump made me bigger and drew sympathy.

On the inside I’m tall, robust, and brave. A block didn’t defeat me and neither can the rage.

On the outside I sing nursery songs and speak gibberish. I play on my iPad all afternoon, snuck under the table during dinner, and until Dad reads me a bedtime book. I’m tired of Good Night Moon, so it puts me to sleep.

In the morning hours, I’m in preschool with Miss Emmy. Who sees me as tall and listens to every word.

dog-1699314_640On the outside I am pale and speckled with spots. Like our Dalmation Sal, short for Salvador. Which I can’t say, though I can think it in my head.

Sal doesn’t mind. He licks my cheek because he knows I’m smart and that I’d recognize him in the dark.

As he recognizes me. His tail wags like a metronome, the one on the piano which shudders as my mom bangs out Beethoven tunes.

I hope the metronome doesn’t crash to the floor. It would be my luck that I’d be walking by. When the thing smashed my toe, it’d be my fault for interrupting the flow. There’d be a gash on the zebrawood floor that would cost a lot to fix.

On the outside I skulk in/out of rooms while the adults bicker and call on the phone or across the house.

With gestures as wild and choppy as an axe. Like when they cheer the sports teams or curse with the man in the red hat on the TV screen.

Like when the Johnsons come to dinner and I’m consigned to eat on a high stool at the kitchen island. They may agree or disagree, it doesn’t matter.

Ruído_Noise_041113GFDLWhat matters is that they are loud. And, no one yells at me for shooting peas at the ice dispenser on the refrigerator’s left door. Sal likes the game because he eats the peas.

At least they don’t shout at me anymore. Move this way, do this, do that, don’t slouch. Did you have to leave a puddle of milk on the floor? Do you want me to break my back?

Don’t bother me. Eat your broccoli because it’s good for you. Eat your peas because they are small. Just your size.

While they roll the veggies around the plate with their fork, fake listening to each other’s tirades.

Instead of dining, they torch, dispirit, and quibble. As if it mattered.

I’m small. I know how to read and look word meanings up on iPad.

I’m smart…as if it mattered.

ryukin-315995_640I feel like a guppy looking into their vast aquarium. That has no water at all. No seductive ferns to flutter and sway. No pretty pebbles. No little castle in which to slither and hide away.

I’m glad to stay in my room, my small fishbowl. Playing on my iPad, winning all the games, learning all the new words.

Being content and happy and safe.

Someday it’ll be my turn and I’ll spout the words, like a great whale in the ocean. The spray will upend them; wash them away with a foul red tide.

A tide that will knock the hat off of that swarthy-mouthed man. That angry, foaming-at-the-mouth lout. The one who has stolen my nice, attentive-to-me parents and replaced them with these angry wooden stumps.

I am hopeful, patient, and brave.