Orange JuiceMature

Kariya sat down without saying a word to the strange man. It wasn't that he scared her, for she didn't even notice the gun at his side or the handcuffs in his pocket, or even the special markings on his blue uniform. It was just that she had never seen him before, and so she wondered, vaguely, where Daddy was, why Mama was touching that meat, and why there was enough food to feed her family for three days sitting in the middle of the table; yet Mama was still cooking.

"Hello, Kariya," said the policeman kindly, and she carefully avoided his gaze. Instead she picked at a loose thread on the yellow tablecloth and hummed the tune that Daddy had sung to her last night, a little twisting tune that he had murmured into her hair as she was dozing off, as he often did.

Raindrops on roses,

Whiskers on kittens...

"Kariya?" The policeman put his large dark hand over her small white one. She drew back, startled, and suddenly she realized that something was wrong, very wrong, like the hunched shape of her mother in the doorway, and it occured to her that Daddy wasn't there, but he should have been there, he had always been there when Kariya needed him. If he was there, she realized, Mama wouldn't be crying on the banister, but that's exactly what she was doing--crying--crying with her short hair ruffled and her blouse stained, and the policeman wouldn't be holding out his chair for her, and looking down at Kariya the way that an elephant would look down at a mouse.

And Mama wouldn't be holding out her arms, and stroking Kariya's hair as though she were the most precious thing in the world, and whispering "Your Daddy died today. Your Daddy died."

The End

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