I want you to love me, said Hanks. I do, whispered Bradshaw. I know, Hanks said, but I can’t feel your arms tight around me. Here let me try harder, Bradshaw said. Feel? It is like wings. I hold you like wings.
Gossamer, Hanks murmured. That is what mom says. Angels have gossamer wings. But I’m not an angel Bradshaw protested. I have arms. Hang on to me. We can hang on to each other Hanks decided. Tight. We can hang on tight to each other and go wherever we want to go. We can go far away or stay here or just hum a song together. Or dance, chuckled Bradshaw.
I don’t want to dance. I want to feel safe and loved and happy, Hanks told Bradshaw. I want you to make me safe and loved and happy. Bradshaw laughed. I can’t do that, but you can. All you have to do is think about it….is anybody hitting you? No. Is anybody laughing or yelling at you? No. Has anybody left you all alone? Sometimes. But they came back, right? Right. Are you hungry? No. Are you wet, or cold, or do you hurt any place? No. I think you are safe and loved and ought to be happy then.
Yes, said Hanks.
Why did it feel all wrong? Hanks wondered. Where is the safe and happy. She felt love, all around her. There was love in the house: smiles, gentle touch, gentle words, good food cooking smells, mom sewed and made neat things and baked cookies and knitted sweaters. Dad sat in his chair and read the newspaper and listened to Glildersleeve on the radio. It felt quiet and sad.
Is it sad to be a grown up? Hanks asked. Maybe said Bradshaw. They work hard and worry a lot. They have a lot to do. Maybe that makes them sad. It is their job to keep you safe and your job to know when they have done that for you.
Oh, said Hanks. What about happy? You have to find fun things to do and play and have music and ride your bike. You can do hopscotch on the side walk, Bradshaw told her. Yes, agreed Hanks.
Mom came out of the kitchen, I want you to go to the back yard and weed the vegetable garden, Hanks, she said. It hasn’t been done all week. I’m very busy right now, Hanks said quickly. I have to ride my bike to the woods and look for wildflowers for our dinner table tonight. Are we having company? asked mom. No, said Hanks. I want to make our family happy. Sounds good, said mom with a smile. You get a big bouquet and I will get out the crystal bowl and we will have a centerpiece and surprise dad.
Hanks and Bradshaw took off in a flash.