020. That’s About the Size of It. Marie Anderson

“That’s about the size of it,” is what Mom said when she had nothing left to say, and that’s what I say now too.

“That’s about the size of it,” is how I end my conversations with Darla. Darla is the only daughter who reliably phones. She calls me every Sunday night at 7:45. She asks me what’s new.  She’s my middle daughter, turning 34 or 35 pretty soon.

“That’s about the size of it,” I say to Father Ryzner in the confessional box every Saturday morning when he asks, “Is that all?” That’s what he asks after I finish confessing my six or seven made-up sins. I have no real sins. You need people around you to sin, and there are no people around me anymore.

Husband dead.

Siblings not dead, but should be.

Three surviving kids—three daughters, dammit—all far away, all happy and hoppy with kids, jobs, husbands, friends, life.

“That’s about the size of it,” I mumble after I take out my teeth at night. Then I lay down on one side of my big bed. The other side holds Owly, a stuffed bird fat as a beach ball, white body graying and fraying, missing both eyes.

My little boy loved that owl. There’s a zipper in the owl’s back that seals a pouch where Luke hid innocent treasures. Later, powders and pills, syringes and spoons, but that’s not Owly’s fault.

Twenty-nine he’d be this year. My Luke. My change-of-life surprise child.

“Night, Owly,” I pray. “That’s about the size of it.”

Owly says nothing back, but when rain shimmers against my eyes late every night, he comforts me with his promising smell of must and dust and innocence not lost.

The size of it, it’s shrinking. I’ll go when it’s gone.

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