I am five.
My mom and grandma rush to get me to my first day of preschool. We are about to go out the door when my mom shouts, “Wait! Ali your hair!”
“Do we have to brush it out?” I complain. I hate brushing my hair because I twist it into intricate little knots that are later impossible to brush out. I know that it will hurt.
“Yes,” says my mom, mimicking my whiny tone. “Let’s go.”
“Fine!” I say. We walk to the bathroom, and I hop on the counter. She holds the black handle of the brush and starts to untangle the knots. One by one, she unties each of them ever so carefully, trying to be gentle.
“Ouch!” I yelp.
“Sorry,” mom says unconvincingly. “Beauty is pain, darling, get used to it.” I ponder this statement as she braids my dark brown hair down my back.
“Ready to go?” she asks me.
“Yeah” I say.
I get to school just in time before everyone goes down to the preschool room.
“I love you, sweetheart,” mom says.
“I love you too”, I say back. She stands there staring at me lovingly,
but all I say is, “You can go now, you know.”
“Oh, sorry. Ok bye.” she says with a smile. I watch her leave, turning quickly just before her tears spill over her eyes. She waves me goodbye again, blows a kiss and gets in the car with my grandma.
I am six.
I hop in the car with my younger sister and my mom, excited that she is picking us up for once.
“Look what I got!” mom says in a singsong tone.
“What?” I ask.
“A stepping stone we can paint ourselves!” she answers. I stare at the bright yellow and blue box and the picture of the contents. I love to do crafts with my mom. I am so excited to get home and paint.
“Yay!” I say cheerfully.
We pull into the driveway and I jump out of the car. I race my sister to the door, swing it open, and fling my backpack on the couch. We walk to my little bedroom, sit on the bed, and open the box. Inside are the instructions, paint, and a plain white stone begging to have color. The stone has a butterfly, a flower, and a ladybug carved in it.
“Can I paint the ladybug? Please—,”I beg.
“Okay, I’ll paint the butterfly,” my mom says.
“I’ll paint the flower!” my sister says, trying to be part of the project. I paint the ladybug very carefully, making sure I don’t mess up. I decide on a red body with purple spots. My mom’s butterfly looks amazing, as always and, well, I can’t say the same about my sister’s flower. But, it is our creation, and it is perfect to us. When we finish painting, we let it dry, flip it over, and sign our names.
“This looks great girls. Let’s go put it outside” Mom suggests.
“Okay,” my sister and I say together. We walk outside in the dark and place our little creation gently beside the sidewalk in the grass.
“Good job, girls, it’s beautiful,” my mom says.
I am seven.
I walk outside in the damp grass. It is 9:00 A.M., way too early for me. I crawl into the car and buckle up. The leather of the seat is freezing, and I am trying my best not to make contact with it, which is failing miserably. I finally give up and slump down in my seat.
“I’m cold and tired!” I complain.
“I know. You can go back to sleep when we get back from the store,” mom says.
“Ugh!” I moan. We sit in silence for about five minutes until my mom asks me to put a disc in the slot. I do and it starts to play. She sings along with the words of the music perfectly. I sit there staring at her. I start to hum the tune and then I’m singing with her. When the song ends, we laugh and play the disc again and again until we make it to the store.
I am eight.
My sister, grandma, and I stand in the doorway of the living room waiting for my mom to say goodbye to us before school. She comes in and we hug. “Have a great day girls. I love you two,” she says.
“Love you too,” we say. “Goodbye”
“See you tonight” she says, but we don’t see her that night or ever again. That is our last goodbye. My mother dies that afternoon. She is only twenty-eight years old.
I am thirteen now.
Our perfect little creation lays outside, weathered and in shambles, a mirror of my heart. A few weeks ago, my dad tells me to go clean up the mess in the yard. I walk outside under the night sky, thinking of the words my grandma said to me five years ago, “God wanted another star to be put in the sky to make the night more beautiful. God chose your mom to be that star.” I look up at you, shining brightly and I can only think of three words: I miss you.
Alizaya Doyle is thriteen years old and in 7th grade. She goes to St. Patrick School in Rolla, Mo. She wants to dedicate this memoir to her wonderful teacher who taught her how to write a great memoir.