by Traci Mullins
Andrea woke early, a mischievous smile on her lips as she anticipated her fourth date with Michael. She was sure this was going somewhere; she hadn’t felt such a sizzling connection since she started online dating. She dressed herself in her mind as she lay in bed, changing out various outfits as though she were playing with a paper doll.
Padding quietly past her five-year-old’s room, she headed toward her laptop on the kitchen table. Michael had often written to her late at night during the weeks they’d spent swapping getting-to-know-you messages. Sure enough, when she opened her email there was a new message. “Need to cancel tonight—realize this isn’t going anywhere for me. Sorry.”
Andrea burned with shame over the adolescent emotions she’d awakened with. Stunned, she went through the motions of getting out the Rice Crispies and milk, her son’s favorite breakfast. Moments later she heard Andrew’s little feet pounding down the hallway. He ran almost everywhere, as though he would miss something if he didn’t hurry.
“Morning, Mommy!” he said, as he burst into the room and immediately wrapped his arms around her legs. “Can we go play on the swings?”
“Sure, Sweetie, but let’s eat first,” Andrea answered, barely able to force the words from her dry throat. Andrew filled his mouth with cereal and snapped, crackled, and popped while he watched his mother slumped in her chair, her cereal getting soggy as she stared into her bowl.
“Why you sad, Mommy?”
Andrea blinked away tears when she saw the concern etched on her son’s little forehead. “Oh, Honey,” she said, “Mommy lost a friend. It’s sad when someone doesn’t like you anymore.”
Andrew looked like he was studying something very hard. “It’ll be okay, Mommy,” he said, “you’ll see.”
After spooning the last bite of cereal into his mouth, Andrew scampered from the kitchen, presumably to turn on Saturday morning cartoons. Andrea poked at her mushy Rice Crispies, wondering how she would make it out of her pajamas, much less to the park.
Little feet suddenly pounded back down the hallway and her son rushed in, carrying a bouquet. Thrusting the flowers toward her he announced, “Mommy, you are my favoritist person!”
Smiling for the second time that morning, Andrea accepted the dandelions and nuzzled their fuzzy faces.“And you’re my favorite boy,” she said, pulling her biggest fan into her arms. “Let’s go to the park.”