Janie’s Glow in the Dark Stars
Janie walked into the kitchen and saw peanut butter on the floor. “What are you doing?” She said. Her dad bent down and picked her up, placing her on his big right shoulder. “I’m making us lunch,” he said to her. His hands were sticky from jelly. “But that’s what we had yesterday,” she said. Janie’s dad put her down on the landing and said, “go upstairs and play with mommy.”
The bedroom was dark but she found her way to her parents’ bed from the glow in the dark stars on the wall. Janie watched the pale white ceiling above her, currently covered in dark shadowy reflections from the shades on the window and the night light on the floor. “Mommy?” Janie said out into the room. “Mommy!”
Her dad got into the doorway and said, “what’s wrong?” Janie began to cry and then her dad came and swaddled her, sitting them down onto the bed. “Where’s mommy?” Janie said. Her father blinked real hard and pulled his neck back to look at his daughter. “What do you mean?” he asked. Janie furrowed her little brow and responded, “I thought you said to go play with mommy. Where’s mommy?” Her father spread his hands back on the bed and took a very long sigh, deflating his entire body through his mouth. “Did I say that?” He replied.
They sat there in the silence of the big house. Not even the birds could be heard in this early afternoon lull. “Did she come back from heaven?” Janie said. Something floated through the plumbing pipes and made a lurching sound throughout the house. Her father looked down at his hands and said, “it’s almost lunchtime, Janie. I should go finish the peanut butter and jelly.”
more by DOMINICK NERO
Photograph by Ewa Stepkowska