“But Mom,” I reason without further explanation.
Mom looks at me and repeats “No.”
“I’m the only one, that’s not fair!”
“If everyone is going to jump off a bridge, would you jump?”
I hate that logic. It usually works. Not. This. Time
“Mom, mom, mom.”
She stops and flips open the corner of the folded sheet. Today is change-the-sheets Saturday.
I grab the fitted sheet and stretch it over her king sized bed. Mom then tosses me the end of the flat sheet. I tuck it under the mattress and pull it to the top.
“Thanks Alison,” Mom says as we bring up the bedspread and plop the pillows into place.
I follow her into the pink bathroom. It’s pink as in pink tile, pink tub, pink paint, and pink toilet. The house is ancient to my 9 year old sensibilities (my grandmother lived in it) and this room, like the living room and matching dining room, is pink.
“Mom, please!” I begged.
“I’ll make a deal with you. You get your nose pierced and then you can get your ears pierced.”
I cried in defeat. In 1976, the only people with their noses pierced were in National Geographic Magazine.
“Mom, that’s not fair!” I reason again. “Some girls even get their ears pierced when they are babies! They’re the lucky ones!”
“Honey, they are not lucky.”
I stomp through the pink dressing room to the kitchen where Dad is peacefully sipping on a cup of coffee.
“Hey Al, ready to rake leaves?”
We live on the edge of the woods. Above us stands acres of trees, forty feet high, heading steeper up the hill. Just to the right of the woods is a former blast site clearing we call the Tennis Court. One day the space will fulfill this prophecy, but right now, it’s stacked with leaves, fallen branches, and grass clippings. Every sunny fall day is rake-the-leaves day.
I roll my eyes but follow my dad outside and pick up a rake.
“So, Al? You’re going to hit the big 1-0, soon. What do you want for your birthday?”
“A ten-speed bike would be nice,” I shrug while I glance down the long sloped street wondering if I had enough power to peddle back up.
Weeks go by and two days after Christmas I pad through the house in some new clothes.
“Happy Birthday, Al,” Dad says as he climbs out of the kitchen chair. “This is your bid day, double digits, you’re no longer my little girl!”
I smile and sit on the countertop.
“You and I are going to the mall to get your present.”
As we head to the car, just the two of us, my dad looks at me and asks, “Would you rather get a bike or your ears pierced?”
Thirty-eight years later I’m blowing out a candle on a slice of key-lime pie.
“So, Al,” Dad asks as he, Mom, and my husband watch. “Out of all these years, what’s been your best present ever?”
“That’s easy,” I answer quickly as I push my hair behind my ears and smile.