Cindy Sams

One, two, buckle my shoe.

Bobby waited for you at the picture window in the living room. He thought you would come this time. He packed his stuff in a Piggly Wiggly grocery sack—clean underwear, toothpaste, a bristle brush for his black curlicue hair.

Three, four open the door.

I didn’t pack anything. I knew you wouldn’t show up.

Five, six, pick up sticks.

Grandmama told Bobby to sit down and eat his breakfast, but he wouldn’t move from the window. He wouldn’t even watch Bugs Bunny with me. Kill the wabbit! Kill the wabbit! Good ol’ Elmer Fudd. He’d teach you a thing or two about not keeping promises. Shhhh. Be vewy quiet. I’m hunting missing mothers.

Seven, eight, lay them straight.

Maybe she’s just late from the rain, Bobby said. He never took his eyes off the driveway. I stayed away from that glass because the lightning scared me. No need to risk your life waiting for something that’s not going to happen.

Nine, ten, a big fat hen.

Bobby waited for you all morning. Around lunchtime, he started crying so hard he could hardly breathe. Grandmama made him go lie down before he made himself sick. She said you should be ashamed of yourself for hurting that child’s feelings like that. You cut that boy to the quick, she said.

You didn’t hurt me none. Fast or slow, I quit believing in you a long time ago.