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He pressed his pudgy nose against the glass, his unfathomably blue eyes wide with wonder. I tried to ignore the handprints he was leaving behind. Sometime today, an old man, or a grumpy teenager would mop that window with a tired rag, and the traces of him would be erased.

For him, it was magic.

The ones he loved the most, the chocolate ones covered in colorful bright and perky sprinkles, like a birthday party in seven bites, starting out a colorless lump of dough. And before his very eyes, behind the glass where the magic happened, they rolled along, ushered toward perfection, dumped, flipped, sweetened, and rescued, spirited away into boxes folded by deft, practiced hands, presented to the next in line after a swipe of the card.

A line that moved slowly.

The aroma beckoned, a siren’s call to passers-by, as the tiny shop filled with hungry, wanting stomachs.

He watched batch after batch as we made our way forward, inch after inch, and after forever but before satisfaction, we reached the angel behind the counter, a genuine smile on her face, pleased to offer us a slice of heaven.

“What can I getcha?” she said, her lilting voice thick with a southern accent as long as a summer’s day, as cool as sweet iced tea her voice lilting toward the light.

The tears I held captive cried mutiny, revolting, beating their wet fists against my vision, making their presence known. What can I getcha? A simple question with a hundred answers.

A sense of peace. A different diagnosis. A negative result. A positive outlook. A promise that I will live to watch my son outgrow the magic of a doughnut shop. A cure.

He looked hopeful. “Mama? The sprinkly one?” The forbidden one, because each sprinkle packed a day’s worth of sugar. Forbidden, because I found them embedded in the carpet weeks later.

“The sprinkly one,” I tell the lady. The healthy one, I want to add. The one who worries about the bank statement, not the doctor’s statement. The one who worries about the cost of college, not the cost of funerals. The one whose lumps can be transformed into perfection, not into destruction.

But that is not on the menu.

[ Note : This is a piece of fiction written for The Red Dress Club writing exercise, Red Writing Hood. This week’s prompt: Write a piece, fiction or non-fiction, inspired by the delicious shot. Word limit is 600. Constructive criticism welcome; in fact, I beg for it. ]


It was a perfect storm of frustration.

A long day. An even longer night.

Two screaming kids, one screaming in outrage because she Still. Wasn’t. Asleep. yet, the other screaming out of some deep-seeded need interwoven with his XY chromosome to be constantly noisy, an otherwise preoccupied husband out of earshot, a frazzled mother trying to alternately soothe a fussy baby and get the other clean and ready for bed…

Eventually the wave crests, the earth cracks, the aria crescendos.

Please. Shut up.”

The fat lady sang.

I let my frustration bubble up and out of my mouth, and, sweet Mother Mary, it worked.

He fell absolutely silent as I scrubbed his hair dry, counting the seconds before I could rush into the other’s bedroom to replace the white noise monitor with a mother’s shushing.

I got to thirty before I realized I had just carelessly tossed out the forbidden “s” word. I got to thirty-two before I realized that my boy, my firstborn, was not silent out of obedience, but from full-fledged fragility.

He was stunned, dumbstruck, blindsided by my cruelty. He had no words for this betrayal.

I had hurt his feelings, and now I had to watch him crumple beneath the weight of two thoughtless words. It’s one thing to see your child get hurt. It’s another world entirely to know you dealt the blow.

It took an hour, curled around the curve of his fragile shoulders, trying to undo the few seconds it took to break his heart. When he looked at me, with tears in his eyes and a hand on his chest, and said, “You hurt my heart,” I knew I would have cut out my own and given it to him, had he but asked.

It took an hour. An hour of hugs, of kisses, of prayer, and, most importantly, of words. Words reassuring my love, words requesting his forgiveness, words expressing my earnest regret.

And even after speaking those new words, as if they were mortar to the cracks I caused, I knew he was still hurt. Despite his active forgiveness, despite his promise that he knew I loved him, that he was no longer angry with me, I knew he still nursed a throbbing heart, a heart tender to its core, wrapped in dirt stains and bug juice, a heart split in two by his own mother’s harshness.

But then he crawled into our bed, early the next morning, whispering, “Mom, I forgive you,” and I wanted to open up my chest and tuck a piece of him inside me, next to my heart, because I want to be just like him when I grow up.

[ Note: This was originally written on my family blog, recycled and revised for The Red Dress writing prompt, Forgiven. Constructive criticism welcome; in fact, I pretty much beg for it. ]

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© Jessica Buttram and This Buttram Writes, 2011. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Jessica Buttram and This Buttram Writes with appropriate and specific direction to the original content. Don't make me cut you.