April’s mother was home all of the time to bake them cookies when Casey got to go there for play time. April’s mother always smelled of cinnamon and peanut butter and jelly sandwiches. Casey sat in the large living room which April’s mother had called a foyer. The array of toys spread across the plush cream carpet. There were dolls with porcelain hands and faces, a cow who was dressed up in a dress with a dust ruffle, and Casey’s favorite; it was a flop eared bunny that April had given her the first time she came over. It was golden with a white stomach and white paws, and the little eyes always gleamed like the color of the sky.
April had said that she gave it to Casey because she thought she might like it. Casey had brown hair, green eyes, and a pale complexion that made her grandmother slather SPF 75 on any day warmer than seventy-five degrees, and in California, that meant she usually carried a bottle with her. Casey ran her fingers across the soft fur and tugged one of the ears. Hugging it tightly to her she scrambled up and wandered to the kitchen where April’s mother was baking more cookies. April had been gifted with her mother’s complexion and warmth. Casey thought they both looked like God had taken a cinnamon shaker and dusted their skin with the warm, brown color. They stood together, mixing batter and April squealed when her mother dabbed some of the cookie dough on the tip of her nose.
The phone jarred April’s mother from her ensuing battle to keep April from eating the batter. Casey looked at the two. She moved to the place where April’s mother had vacated. The two girls smiled at each other and stuck their fingers in the cookie batter pulling out great handfuls and gobbling it down. The murmur of the phone conversation, an undercurrent to their snitching, flowed around the house, and if Casey closed her eyes she could make that sound disappear into nothingness.
“Well of course Mrs. Adams.” Her grandmother’s name, or at least what everyone else called her, caught her by surprise. She glanced at the cheerful clock sitting above the sink: 3:18. She still had 45 minutes, maybe she could hide, and her grandmother would have to let her spend the night. Casey giggled as she grabbed another bite of cookie dough. “I fully understand, well, I think Casey should be allowed to make that decision herself.” Sigh. “Yes, I know. I’m sure her mother will be pleased to see her.”
Casey’s ears perked, no one mentioned her mother around her, of course April’s mother didn’t know she was spying. Her mother had gone to a place, and her grandmother had taken her once. Ice bars stood in rows down the isles, and everyone wore uniforms. The strong men wore little badges and everyone else wore bright orange jumpsuits. When she had gone there with her grandmother all her mother could say was that orange clashed with the color of her hair, and she was glad she only had to stay here for a few years. A few years was a long time for a seven year old.
“Yes, Mrs. Adams. I’ll bring her back home. Would you like me to tell her? Yes, yes, of course I’m sure she’ll feel better hearing it from you.” Casey scrambled when April’s mother’s footsteps came closer.
“Casey?” She froze, her nose itched, and she rubbed it. She turned slowly, the bunny clutched in her hand. April’s mother ran a hand through her dark hair. “Your grandmother would like me to take you home. She has some exciting news. Um, she didn’t want me to tell you, but your mother is being let out of jail at the end of the week, and your grandmother wants you both to go visit her. Isn’t that nice? Now, promise you’ll act surprised when your grandmother tells you. Let me get my keys and my purse, we’ll all pack up and take you home.” April’s mother passed by, smelling of warm sunlight. April, after glancing bewildered at Casey, scrambled after her mother, asking why Casey had to leave when it was only a little after 3.
Casey looked down to her cookie dough covered hands. April’s mother hadn’t said anything about their eating it before letting them bake. The bunny sat on the chair, watching her, one ear flopped sideways, its little paws sat in its lap. Bringing it to her nose she smelled the fur, wondering if, maybe if she asked nicely, she could take her bunny home this time.