Jane enters the kitchen and twirls around.

Erin: Wow, Jane!

Me: You look beautiful.

Jane is wearing her new skirt. It is everything she wanted it to be: a long peasant skirt in a lovely brown.

Alice: Oooo! You look like Cinderella! In rags!

The loveliest rash

Alice is in the bathtub. Her shoulders, neck, and tummy are covered in itchy pink spots.

Alice: Are they chicken pox?

Me: We don't think so.  [ed. They're not.]

Alice: They're so itchy!

Me: I know.

Alice: I want to scratch them!

Me: I know.

Alice: I don't like them!

Me: I know.

She pauses to gaze at one on her tummy which looks particularly pink and irritated.

Alice: ...but they are a very pretty colour.


It's the day after Easter. I am sick as a dog.

I am in the kitchen. I am coughing.

Alice would like very much to see the Easter egg on the counter. It is a lovely blue and green egg with sprinkles of glitter.

I pick it up. I hand it to her. Her eyes light up.

Alice: It's so.... sparkly.

I look at my fingers. They are covered in glitter. Through my influenza fog, I think of how hard this stuff will be to wash off. I think about how even after a thorough washing, I will still, hours later, find flecks of glitter on my fingers and likely my face.

Me: I hate sparkles.

Alice is silent. Her smile melts. She walks from the room.

Me: Oh, Alice... that's not what I meant...

She is gone. I am coughing. I must sit down.


Minutes later...

She returns.

Alice: Do boys not like glitter?

Me: Oh, Alice. Boys like glitter. I'm really sorry I said I hate sparkles. I didn't mean it like I said it. I should have said I don't like how they stick to my skin. I'm sorry if I hurt your feelings. I think glitter is very pretty.

We are friends again.


Minutes later...

I sit on the couch next to Jane. I pull a handkerchief from my pocket and blast my nose into it.

Jane is staring at me. She says nothing. She seems... displeased.

Me: You okay?

Her eyes narrow.

Jane: Is it true you hate sparkles?