• Vol. 02
  • Chapter 05
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Donkeys Don’t Belong in Housing Estates

My daughter slammed the donkey down hard.
'Here!' she said with that look, pure, narrowed hatred. I was almost too afraid to oppose her. But I did. I was still her mother.
'But donkeys don't belong in a housing estate with houses, why don't you put it on the grassy area with the other animals.'
Lucy frowned and crossed her arms. I noticed the sun had lightened her hair. I wanted to hold her warm body - too painful - for both of us.
Lucy's eyes welled with tears, her lips bubbled. We only had fifteen minutes per month, social services had decided. I was helpless, watching my daughter grow up with strangers made me feel like a pariah, and every time I visited, Lucy grew more distant.
Then the tears came. Oh Lucy, Lucy, my Lucy, instinctively I go to pick her up but Jackie intervenes.
'It's best I do it.' Putting her hands around my daughter's middle, she lifts her up and walks away. Why don’t I just grab her and run, run, run? Lucy didn't look back. She didn’t look back. Lucy’s hand grabbed Jackie’s hair - I remember how that felt.
Lucy had fallen over on the patio, her eye all puffy at first, swollen, later black, yellow and purple, school had intervened and social services stole her from me. No questions. No explanation. No kindness. I'll never forget Lucy screaming and kicking in the strangers arms, me begging and cajoling - why - I don't know -I guess to ease her pain but Lucy was right, kicking and screaming was correct. I just broke things, including my marriage.
Funny how numb you can feel when things are not in the right place. He's no longer sleeping next to me - Lucy doesn't come to me in the night and slip in under the covers with her cold feet and messy hair or eat Cheerios, or try to wear them as rings while I tell her they're too small, then she smiles and eats them from the tips of her small fingers and slurps orange juice, pretends to give a drop to monkey. Monkey didn't go with her. Monkey's still at home.


Donkeys Don’t Belong in Housing Estates

Sometimes I hug Monkey just to feel something again. Sometimes I let Monkey sleep in my bed.
Life doesn't fit right. I don't know when I'll get her back and I don't know what to do to take the next step. One foot in front of the other used to be easy. Trusting that your child is safe used to be a surety. I pick up the donkey and place it in the green field next to the cows and pigs. I change my mind and slip the donkey into my hand bag and go home.