June-Bug masks her excitement, but just barely. Whatever she would have the others believe, she isn’t so coy with me.
“I always wanted to be a mom, you know.”
We wander through a shopping district too upscale for us, probably even before we reached homelessness.
“I just knew I’d want a bunch of kids. I thought they’d come after high school, after I met a man I could count on. But here I am. It’s a funny thing that my ma could be happy as a blue jay or whatever if I were a few years older.”
I find she has much to say. Maybe too much. I try to catalog her words for later commission to draft, but she speaks quickly and all over the place.
“I was an honor student. Ma had a bumper sticker and all. She told me since I was little that I would live the life she didn’t get. But I didn’t want to be a doctor or anything like that. I wanted a family.”
The longer she talks, the more proper her tone. She’s practiced in speaking from the street. I wonder if the others know.
I continue to plod along at the rate of a Sunday afternoon until I lose June-Bug. When I turn, she has stopped at a window I barely noticed. Inside is the most extravagant baby bed I’ve ever seen. The cherry wood gleams in midmorning sun. The smooth sheets smile with dogwood blooms. The same blooms extend across the half wall of the display. A tawny owl sits in one corner, its plush feathers blinking with air movement. The rocking chair matches the wood of the crib. The rockers remind me of a gentle boat on still water.
June-Bug stares, mesmerized. She forms neither tears nor a smile.
“Do you want to go in?”
She does not look at me. She doesn’t answer.
“Come on, let’s go look around.”
June-Bug stands stoically. She seems trapped. I’m guessing the trap is more memory than wish. I take her by the hand, pulling a bit emphatically, awaiting some response.
“We shouldn’t,” she says.
“What’s the worst that could happen?” I speak lightly, as if we were two ladies of note shopping with gobs of money.
“We could be arrested,” she says and tugs free. She walks away, leaving me there. She has changed.
At the next major intersection, June-Bug turns south, toward the warehouse. I quickstep to catch up.
“I’m sorry,” I say.
“You didn’t put me out of my house.”
“No,” I agree, “but it was my idea to go window shopping.”
“People like you always turn everything to be about theirselves! It ain’t about you! Get it?”
She runs ahead. We’re close enough to our makeshift home that I don’t try to keep up. I’ve blown it. Whatever confidence I gained with her, I’ve lost. And then some.