Rose Maria Woodson




I’m here to tell you. That was some year. That year that Cheese was born. Nothing like that had ever happened before. It’s like we had all been waiting for some humongous excitement to wake us up, to wash all the boredom dust, and routine rust off of us, to rid us of ruts and fields, milking cows, sweeping streets, shelling peas. We went from drips to dreams just like that. In a grinning minute.

Of course, we were all in awe. No, really. We were in Awe: that’s where Cheese was born. There was caravan after caravan traveling there. But Baby Girl, Comet, and I struck out on our own. We figured we’d get there faster with just the three of us. And we did.

I know that I can say this with certainty: we, all three of us, were humbled, so humbled to be there. We’d brought gifts and we hoped and prayed that baby Cheese would approve. Baby Girl brought a double rainbow, Comet a nova and I gave Cheese a pentatonic scale. When Cheese smiled, we were overjoyed. We laughed and cried all the way home. Nothing was ever the same after that. How in the world could it be?

That’s why, now that I think back, the talent show was destined to be something special that year. I mean, every year the talent show would go on and there was nothing to stop you from washing your hair, and doing a deep conditioning, at the same time. Clean head or the Sackly brothers doing their stack-the-pails routine again. Oh, my, how high will they go this year before the whole boring shebang comes crashing down? Or Rune marching with his mini-pigs. Pigs are smart but they’re hard-pressed to know right from left. Then there was Alfred, singing solo accompanied by his extra-long fingernails on the blackboard. Let me just run headfirst into that giant oak tree over there so that I can see some real stars.

But that year Baby Girl decided to enter. And she did something none of us had ever seen before. I remember we three were down at the riverbank one day, under the weeping willow, lying flat on our backs, deciphering clouds. It was a great day for cloud reading: they were big and fluffy as Ginger’s hair on a humid day. I saw two dragons, Comet a herd of horses but Baby Girl was just musing, not paying attention at all. All of a sudden she sat up. Then stood up. She stood straight as an arrow, stretched her arms out at her sides, like this, closed her eyes, and lifted her brown face to the sun. Me and Comet sat up and just stared at her. We didn’t dare say a word. We didn’t know what was going on but we knew to be quiet. 

And then Baby Girl opened her eyes and started moving. Not walking. Not fetching. Not even steps that we could recognize. But moving, like leaves in a breeze, like little waves rippling to shore. And it was pretty as a field of sunflowers. She turned, arms out. She turned arms over her head. She bowed. She smiled. The whole time. And then, she finished with a sort of leap in the air, one leg this way, the other leg that way, her right hand over the first leg, her left hand behind her. God, it was beautiful. 

 Me and Comet jumped to our feet and clapped with all our heart. “What was that?” we asked, our words darting over one another like starlings.

Baby Girl thought for a second and then she smiled a smile warm as toast and said,

“That was Dance.”

“What is Dance,” I asked. “What is it? What’s it for?”

“Dance is what I just did,” said Baby Girl. “And it’s for. . . joy. It’s not for laundry, it’s not for boxes, it’s not for shoeing horses, it’s not for pulling up weeds. It is for itself. And it is for joy.”

Comet looked off across the river for several seconds and then, with arms akimbo, came and stood in front of Baby Girl. “Baby Girl, you have caught yourself a vision. Nobody, nobody has done this before. You know what this means, right?”

“It means I can dance and I can teach you to dance. I can share it with the whole world.” Baby Girl smiled.

“Yeah, that’s sweet and all, but what this really means is that you have to enter the talent show this year. You have to! Lord, between pails and pigs, you’re sure to win,” Comet laughed.

I could see now where Comet was going. “Baby Girl, the prize this year is the Little Great Bake Oven! And a lifetime supply of mixes. This is just the best thing ever! It comes with its own miniature sun and full moon as heat sources and the cookies are slap-your-momma- divine. Besides, what are the Sackly brothers going to do with a Little Great Bake Oven??? Pile some pails on it? Baby Girl, this dance thing you invented will win. Hands down. Hands full of Little Great Bake Oven cookies down.”

Baby Girl thought for a minute. “I don’t know if I’m good enough to win first place. I’ll just dance for myself and my two best friends. That’s enough for me.”

“Baby Girl, you said dance is joy. And you discovered this new thing that can bring joy to this little village. This little poor, plain, pot-luck village. Nobody but you can do this. Yes, you are good enough to win. We’ll help you somehow. We don’t know dance but we know you. What good is joy if you keep it to yourself? And think of all the fun we’ll have with that Little Great Bake Oven!” Comet had a way of painting the big picture small enough to grasp.

“Alright. I’ll do it.” Baby Girl hugged us and then she danced again. Only this time she did something different with her hands. Held them out with the fingers spread apart. And then she shook them. No, not like that. Like this. It was something. Me and Comet just looked at each other.

“What was that,” I asked. I tried to do it myself but just wound up looking like I was having a fit. “That new thing you just did with your hands?”

Baby Girl stood straight as an arrow, stretched out her arms at her sides like this, closed her eyes, and lifted her face up to the sun. And then Baby Girl opened her eyes. “Jazz hands,” was all she said.

Jazz hands. Comet told me to make a note. And I did.

And so Baby Girl danced every day. Rarely the same dance all the way through. Comet studied her moves and I kind of wrote them down. I say kind of because how do you say she stood on her toes and pointed to the sky? Sometimes I used words, sometimes I used arrows, sometimes I used them both. It helped Baby Girl remember and I think it helped me too: it was like I was learning a foreign language. They say that’s good for your brain. All I know is, the three of us met every day. Baby Girl was getting better and better. Comet and I felt honored to be included in her journey.

One day Old Moms and Cat Jesus happened by. Old Moms was silent as snow falling as he watched Baby Girl dance her heart. When she finished, all he said was, “Mighty fine. That’s mighty fine.” Cat Jesus purred and rubbed all up against Baby Girl’s legs. Then they moved on, quiet as they came.

“You hear that, Baby Girl?” Comet asked her.  “Old Moms just said ‘mighty fine.’ Even Cat Jesus purred. It’s a sign sure as I’m standing here saying it’s a sign.” 

I could only nod in agreement because I was still writing my notes. But I agreed with Comet. Old Moms? Lord, he was something of a legend around here. He was neither old nor young but a respectable age. Nobody could exactly remember where or when he got the name, Old Moms. Seems he was always rescuing someone or something. Kittens by the side of the road. Pups without water panting in a dirty yard. Once Ginger when her former husband got it in his head that he’d beat her one night for sport. Old Moms happened to come along and he warned the husband to stop. The husband had to have been drunk because he thought he’d make fun of Old Moms, his name and all, and then go on and beat Ginger. Nobody knows exactly what happened because Ginger fainted but when she came to she said she remembered what sounded like her husband hitting a high C and a cat hissing. Nobody ever saw him again but rumor had it that he joined a girl’s chorus, all sopranos. Never seen again. Ginger was a lot happier from that night on. She’d always set a pie out for Old Moms and a pinch of catnip for Cat Jesus. That’s just who Old Moms was: maternal instinct personified, always lifting up those who couldn’t lift up themselves. Of course, Cat Jesus was no slouch either. Many a time she’d stop Old Moms walking down the road, while she’d run off into the woods, come back carrying a squirrel by the scruff of his neck. When Old Moms looked close, he could see that the little critter had a busted leg. They’d take him home, tend to him, along with all the others they’d saved. Cat Jesus and Old Moms. Old Moms and Cat Jesus. They were always together. You knew them when you saw them. You could never forget them.

Baby Girl smiled to think that Old Moms and Cat Jesus liked what she was doing. We all smiled. I mean, Old Moms did not suffer false talent lightly. I remember back when the traveling troupe came to town. They had some animals, jugglers, the man who could eat anything (and was surprisingly thin), and this high-wire muckety-muck that preened and promenaded like he was God’s gift. Anyway, that mope arrived shortly after the troupe. Gravity ruined everything. The jugglers couldn’t juggle. Everything was too heavy. They just stood around holding their plums and smiling. And the high-wire muckety-muck was the worse. When they’d first arrived, he had his tightrope strung across the main street, from the livery roof to the mill roof. And he walked it pretty good. Had this pole in his hands. Helped him balance. But then Gravity came on the scene. Such a downer. Muckety-muck couldn’t get off the ground. But he was such a prima donna that he had the tightrope laid flat on the ground, across the road. And then he pretended like he was up in the air, with that pole, swaying and bending, taking those little careful steps. He was like a mime gone mad, he was so hungry for center stage. Some people started laughing. He kept going. Then Old Moms and Cat Jesus came along. They just stood there, watching the spectacle. After a minute or so, Old Moms reached into his sack and pulled out a hard, green tomato. He let fly with true aim and beaned Muckety-muck right upside the head. He went down like a barrel of ale. That took care of that display. Again, that’s why we all appreciated what Old Moms said about Baby Girl’s dancing.

So, life went on without much ado. We’d always find time to practice. Baby Girl was getting better and better if you can believe that. But one thing kind of bothered her. When she’d twist and twirl, her long hair would sometimes get in her face. She couldn’t see. A couple of times she took a tumble because of that. After one bad spill, she was really quiet. She stood straight as an arrow, stretched her arms out at her sides, like this, closed her eyes, and lifted her face to the sun. Then she opened her eyes, pulled her hair back from her face, bunched it up at the back of her neck and took a couple of long strands, and wrapped her locks tight. 

“What in the world is that?” Comet and I both asked together.

Baby Girl thought for a second, if that. “A ponytail,” she said.

“A ponytail,” we echoed, looking first at her, then each other. Then we ran over and played with it. The world’s first ponytail. That was enough for that day.

Then, the next day, Baby Girl parted her hair straight down the middle. Made two ponytails on either side of her head. “Afro puffs,” she answered us. 

Well, the talent show was getting closer and closer. Baby Girl was dancing better and better. Comet evolved into sort of a coach because she could always watch the dance. I was busy scribbling, recording everything. I couldn’t be in the moment, like Comet. Then one day, Baby Girl went to make one of her beautiful leaps.  And she couldn’t.  She got maybe a couple of inches off the ground.  Before she’d be soaring into trees, grabbing some apples for us on her, way down.  That was no big deal for her.  But now, her legs didn’t work.  It was like her body wasn’t her own anymore.                                                                                

“What’s up, Baby Girl? Are you hurt?” Comet wondered why her friend was having trouble. But then, as she glanced past her, she knew what the trouble was. Or rather, who the trouble was. “Never mind, Baby Girl. It’s not you. He’s back.”

“Who’s back?” I asked, finally finishing my notations. Then, I looked where Comet was looking. “Son of a gun! Gravity!”

Sure enough, hiding behind the old oak tree, was Gravity, with just his big head peaking out. No wonder the girl couldn’t leap. Not with that mope around. “C’mon on out, Gravity, we see you,” Comet yelled.

Gravity emerged from behind the tree kind of slow-like. “Hey, how you doin’? I was just passin’ by and . . . ”

“You were passing by . . . hiding behind a tree? Don’t think so, Gravity. What do you want?” Comet arrowed to the point. You had to do that with him. Else he’d meander all over the place.

But Gravity ignored Comet. And he ignored me. He only had eyes for Baby Girl. He was in love with her. So he claimed. But she didn’t feel the same way about him. They’d had that talk before. Me and Comet were supposed to have left the room but we left the door open and were right outside. Heard every word. Baby Girl was nice about it. She just explained that she didn’t feel the same way about him. Gravity was even more of a mope when he came out. Me and Comet had to run and hide. We didn’t want him or Baby Girl to know we’d been eavesdropping. After a while Baby Girl came out and just said let’s go get something to eat. So we did. Shortly after that, Gravity left town. Nobody had seen him until today. And now here he was, mooning over Baby Girl. All over again.

“So, how are you, Baby Girl? Whatcha doin’ ?” Gravity asked in his slow drawl, clearly in a hurry to go nowhere.

“I’m good, Gravity. How are you?” Baby Girl asked, being polite.

Me and Comet looked at each other. This could go nowhere for hours. God, take me down to the bog! Like I told you before, Comet had a way with the big picture. That’s who she was. That’s who she is. I mean, her experiences alone could’ve have been carved on stone tablets. Like the time she spent with that herd of comets. For a long time. They taught her how to hold her breath, how to treasure it, how to release it slow as a secret. She learned a special way to inhale and exhale. She said it was a call and response between her lungs and thin air. Oxygen was precious and skittish at the speeds they were traveling. So she learned a circular dance of inhaling and exhaling. She learned to regulate her breath, maximize her oxygen before it was snatched away. Some said that there was nothing up there, that it was all empty. But Comet said that there were ways to breathe even in emptiness. And that’s how she survived to come back to us. With her new name. They loved her so much they named her after themselves. 

They never wanted her to forget them. As if she could. As if anybody could forget the velocity and veracity of heavenly bodies like that. The mists, the trails, the vapors, the smells, the stars, white, red, blue budding lights in the night, and the planets, oh my God, the planets, decked out in swirling rings, hissy fit storms, beautiful blues we’ve never seen the likes of, all dancing all across the sky where night was nothing but a big old dance floor and everybody and everything was on the right beat.  Comet didn’t talk to anybody for a long time after she came down to earth.  It’s like she was mourning the loss of something, someone.  She was a sparrow with a broken wing.  But then she came back to us.  And Baby Girl and I were truly glad to have our friend back.  And I was truly glad to have her here now, right now,  because this molasses syrup of a conversation was still going on. 

Comet edged over and gently took Gravity by the arm, steered him away. “Look, Gravity, we’re a little busy here. We’ll see you later.” She kept easing him away.

“But I wanna talk to Baby Girl! I been away. We got catchin’ up to do.” Gravity was standing his ground. That was a lot of ground.

“Another time, huh, Gravity.” Again, Comet baby-stepped him away. Little by little.

But then Gravity lost his cool. “I ain’t goin’ nowhere. I know what y’all been doin’. Practicin’ for that show. You think Baby Girl’s so good! You think she’s gonna win! Think again, little ladies. She ain’t winnin’ nothin’. All them leaps and jumps ain’t nothin’ when I’m around. And the night of the show, I’m buying up all the seats in the front row. See how high she gets off the ground then. Yeah, see if she’ll win then.” Gravity sneered at Comet, then me. But when he looked at Baby Girl, he softened, “I love you, Baby Girl. C’mon, let’s go get a vanilla phosphate and some caramel corn. Let’s talk.”

Baby Girl said it as plain as corn in a field. “But I don’t love you, Gravity. There’s somebody out there for you, but it’s not me.” And she said it gentle as she could.

“Go on. Get out of here.” Comet pushed him hard this time. She was a strong bony thing. “If you really loved her, you’d let her go. She’s told you how she feels. She’s told you nice. You don’t love her. You love yourself. You know, I’ve lived with comets, I’ve lived with glaciers, I’ve gone down to the deepest levels of oceans and seas. I’ve been in places so cold, wind whipping me, currents tossing me, I thought I’d give up the ghost. I know cold. I had to know it to survive. But you, you are the coldest of all. You’re just a sinkhole of cold ego. You love yourself. Only your wide, moping self. Git!” Comet pushed him again.

Well, now Gravity was just full-blown mad. “I ain’t goin’ nowhere. And Baby Girl ain’t gonna win.” Gravity sat down, spread out, his back against the tree.

“Fine, We’ll leave. And Baby Girl is going to dance her best. That means leaps, jumps, and the whole shebang! You’ll see.” Comet took my arm and Baby Girl’s arm and marched us away.

“And you need to stop wearing those tight t-shirts with all those horizontal stripes!” I yelled over my shoulder as we trudged off. What? Yes, that’s the best I could come up with. I’m a writer, not a speaker. I’m Moses, not Aaron.

We went and grabbed some scrambled eggs and toast, with loads of marmalade. Sometimes it’s fun to have breakfast for dinner. Not that we ever needed an excuse. Comet once said that we were like toast: Baby Girl was that perfect brown taken out at the right moment, but she herself had been forgotten about: so, she was burnt and me, Comet said they’d snatched me from the fire before the heat even touched me. I needed a touch-up.  So here we were, the toast girls, brown, black and high-yellow, still laughing like we were kids. When we separated that evening, Comet told Baby Girl not to worry, that everything would be alright. Then we each walked our own path home.

When Comet got home that night, she couldn’t sleep. She knew that mope, Gravity, had made up his egotistical mind to be a pest. But how to stop him. Comet brewed some green tea and then she stewed on the matter. Finally, she went to her closet. Upon the top shelf is where she kept twelve jars of snow. It was special snow, a gift from the glaciers. There was a way, she decided and it involved timing, kettle corn, and three jars of special snow.

The night of the talent show, Comet had me repeat her instructions again, to make sure I was on the money. She’d told me I needed to man the kettle corn concession and I balked at first, thinking I’d miss Baby Girl’s dance but Comet assured me we’d both be there for our friend. “Okay, Comet, I make sure there’s plenty of kettle corn, keep it warm, sweet, and gooey. I have two containers: one for Gravity, one for everybody else. I sprinkle this over Gravity’s section. His only. I keep the stand open until the show starts. Then I close it. But I don’t really. I stay there and wait for Gravity to come back for more. And I sprinkle more of this on his portion.”

“Right. And be nice to him. Just keep him eating. Much as he wants. I’ve already got the flatbed right where I need it.”

“Where’d you get a flatbed?” I knew Comet had a lot of things but a flatbed wasn’t one of them.

 “Old Moms.”

“Old Moms?”

“Old Moms. All he asked is if we planned on killing him. I told him no and he told me I could use it tonight. Said I could have Luke and Duke too. Said I was the only one he knew, apart from him, strong enough and kind enough to drive his Clydes.”

“Old Moms knows everything.”

“He does.” Comet sighed. I’ll be glad when this is over.” She had worked out every detail, measured every step, put everything in place to make sure her plan went smooth as room temperature butter. But still, in the real world, you never knew. “Alright. You know what to do. I’m going to check on Baby Girl now. You go man the kettle corn.”

“Roger, Boss.” I started to slip away.

But just at that moment, something happened that neither of us could have foreseen.

Cat Jesus came running straight to Comet, stood up on his hind legs, pressed his front paws into her legs, and yowled. His cat eyes were wide, wild. He stared at Comet. She stared at him. Then he circled her and pounced on her legs again, making that same cry, only longer and louder this time. 

Comet knew in a heartbeat something was wrong with Old Moms. “You go put up a closed sign on the concession stand, then run tell Baby Girl that she’ll have to be last in the show. Tell Emcee Hollermore that there’s a malfunction with her outfit and we have to fix it. That’ll buy us a little time. Then meet me back here.”

I didn’t know I could move that fast but I knew I had to. Emcee Hollermore had a snit but I told him if we didn’t fix Baby Girl’s outfit that all of her universes would be showing and I’d tell everybody it was his fault. Course he didn’t want that. The show, after all, was for the whole family. I ran to tell Baby Girl to stay in her dressing room until me and Comet got back. Then I was off again like lightning. When I got back to Comet, Cat Jesus was hissing at her, then at me, his tail switching from right to left and I knew right then we were being cursed out in catspeak. The three of us took off running. Our human legs might have been longer, but we were hard-pressed to keep up with Cat Jesus. I’d never seen him gallop before. It was both beautiful and frightening.

Cat Jesus led us to Old Moms’ cabin. Comet told me to wait outside just to be safe. She went in warily, unsure of what she’d find. “Old Moms,” she called softly, as her eyes adjusted to the dimness. “Old Moms,” she repeated. She heard a groan. She could see him finally, limp on his cot. As she got closer, she could see he was drenched in sweat. His skin was on fire. “Old Moms,” Comet said gently, “I need to turn you on your side. I need to see your back.” He nodded and braced himself to be moved. Comet raised his shirt, her worse fears realized as she stared at the bloody hole in his back. “Spine spiders,” she gasped, in spite of herself. “Old Moms, I know it’s hard but I need you to stay just like this for a minute.” She patted his shoulder, then went to his shelves. There she found the honey that she needed. She took a clean cloth from her bag that she had used to wrap the jars of snow with., placed a dollop of honey in the middle of it, then poured just the right amount of snow, making a sticky poultice. “Brace yourself, Old Moms, I’m putting this on your wound.” She heard him grunt with pain as she gently placed him on his back. “Old Moms, you need to be perfectly still. The poultice will draw the spiders and poison out. But you must stay on your back. Now, the other thing is, I’m going to make it snow in here. Don’t worry, it’ll only snow for three hours. The fever will begin to leave you. You’ll get sleepy. Don’t fight it. Sleep. Dream. We’ll be back to check on you. Cat Jesus is right outside.” Old Moms nodded.

Comet went to the center of the room. Cat Jesus and I peeked through the window. There she sprinkled the rest of the first jar of snow in the air, turning slowly, speaking softly to it.

 “Snow, Snow,

  Bless this place

 with your grace.

 Be more than dreams.

 Help us redeem.



And with that, it started to snow. Slowly at first, then heavier. Big, fluffy flakes. A few flew out the door as she closed it. “Cat Jesus, stay out here until we get back. Okay?”

Cat Jesus looked up at Comet with his wise, wide cat eyes. They were iridescent, full of the evening sky. He bumped his little head against her legs, then jumped up to the roof. He meowed as we took off running. 

Finally, we were back where we’d started. I quick got the kettle corn going, making sure to sprinkle what Comet had given me over the portion that I was to give to Gravity. Meanwhile, Comet backed the low wagon in place, slowly guiding Old Moms’ team of Clydesdales to the right spot. She’d barely finished when sure enough, Gravity was the first in line. 

“It’s ‘bout time y’all opened up. I been waitin’ forever.” Gravity greedily started munching. 

I served some others and then he was back in line again. “Hey, Gravity, you better pace yourself, boy.” I gave him my best smile, Lord knows I tried. Meanwhile, Comet had sneaked off to let Baby Girl know we’d returned. Then, she was back, peeking from behind a tree, watching Gravity. After a while, I told everybody else the stand was closed. But I kept feeding

Gravity. Well, he kept eating. Time was running out. There were only three acts before Baby Girl would have to take the stage. Finally, Gravity started to sway a bit.

“You got any phosphates back there? I need somethin’ to wash all this kettle corn down.” He was swaying a little more now. 

I could see Comet quietly backing Luke and Duke a little closer. A little closer. “Gravity, here, take what’s left. Take it all.” I quickly sprinkled all the rest of what Comet had given me over his kettle corn. “Go on.”

He reached for the bag with both hands. That kettle corn was gone quicker than the last roll at Thanksgiving. Gravity started swaying for real. It was like watching an oak tree in a strong wind. Sway. Sway. Down! That’s okay: by then Comet had placed the wagon in just the right spot. Gravity fell on cue. He couldn’t have fallen any better than if an “X” had been painted in bright red right there. I hopped on board with Comet and she drove the horses to a little grove of trees off the road. Then we unhitched the team and pointed them in the direction of Old Moms’ place. They would be home before he woke up.

Comet now had only two jars of snow left, having used the other one to help Old Moms. I could tell she was a little worried: she’d planned on working with three jars, not two. Anyway, she made me get out of the way and went about loosing that snow all around Gravity. She spoke to it and as she spoke, the snow formed columns, bars, evenly spaced all around that mope. He was out, sawing logs. She told me she had figured out how thick to fashion the bars the other night at home. I thought she was done but she had a dab of snow left and she made a veil between all the bars. It was beautiful. You could see through it. It was like snow lace. But even though you could see through it, sound couldn’t break through it. So if Gravity did wake up before Baby Girl took the stage, if he did and started shouting for help, nobody could hear him. Comet figured the snow prison would melt long after the show. We ran like rabbits to sit in Gravity’s reserved row. I hurried backstage to tell Baby Girl that everything was okay and to dance her heart out. Then I ran to tell Emcee Hollermore that Baby Girl’s outfit was decent and he was a right good fellow for being so understanding and moving her spot. Hollermore loved compliments and he smiled his snaggle-toothed smile a little longer than I liked.

So there we were me and Comet, in the front row. And Baby Girl came on. She started to dance. Usually, there was always chatter throughout the numbers. Chatter, sometimes heckling. Depending on how bad the acts were, some in the audience would mimic animal sounds. But as Baby Girl started to dance, as she turned, light as the sun on a summer morn, as she bowed, jumped, jumped again, and finally leaped clear up to the rafters, there was nothing but awe and silence hanging like Spanish moss in the air. And when Baby Girl, finished, graceful as a swan, that place erupted in applause, shouts, and whistles the likes me, Comet and Baby Girl had never heard before. 

And yes, she did win first prize. She won the Little Great Bake Oven, with a lifetime supply of mixes. We were so proud of her. So happy. I remember seeing Gravity moping at the back of the hall. For a second, I felt sorry for him. He still loved Baby Girl. Or at least thought he did. He didn’t get to ruin her leaps. I never said anything to my friends about him standing there. Then he slipped away, still wearing that tight, striped tee shirt.

But that wasn’t the end of our evening. Comet told Baby Girl about Old Moms. Three hours had passed and we needed to check up on him. I was sorry that we’d sent Luke and Duke ahead. Horses would’ve saved our legs but we made it anyway. Along the way, we stopped by Ginger’s and told her what had happened. She’d just made some surprise stew and said she’d come with us, that Old Moms might need something to eat. 

When we got to the cabin, we found Cat Jesus pacing in front. Comet went in first. She found Old Moms still covered up. Comet touch his forehead, his arms: the fever was gone. “Come on, Old Moms. You need to eat a little something.” She helped him to the table. After checking his back, she called the rest of us in. We were so happy to see him. We could tell he was still a bit weak but he managed to give us a wee bit of a smile. Ginger dished up her surprise stew, I made some tea and Baby Girl made cookies for all of us in the Little Great Bake Oven. 

Old Moms recovered thanks to Comet and her snow. Baby Girl gave the world dance. And yes, even now, all these years later, we still enjoy the Little Great Bake Oven. Does it still work? Of course, it still works. It’s enchanted. We’re enchanted. And if you’re still here, you’re enchanted too. That was some year, that year Cheese was born.


ps – Gravity left for good. I heard he made his way all the way west. Met a girl out there. Kind of a big girl. Her given name is Pacific but Gravity didn’t think that quite suited her. He added an “a” and called her Pacifica. I hear tell they’re very happy. She lightens him up and he settles her down. Now, that’s a match. And their children. Great swimmers. All frothy, tickle-your-toes-silly, shimmering, glimmering kids.  And he finally came out of those God-awful tight tees.

He wears these wild shirts, short-sleeved, with crazy colors and patterns. Might be covered in flamingoes. Might be covered in parrots. Or pineapples. Who knows.  Anyway, he’s almost, almost, almost the life of the party. And that’s saying something.