Awed confusion tensed my tender, pale five-year-old face. My hands sunk into their respective sunflower-print pockets and my whole tiny body sagged. I slumped backwards into the swing behind me, not daring to look up at my mother.
“I knew Santa wasn’t real, but you didn’t say anything about the Easter Bunny.”
(Yes. At one point in my life, that was something I had to have clarified for me. I am not making this up, I promise. I would rather tell you a story that makes me look more intelligent instead of less. Sadly, that is not the case.)
Alas, we return to where I forlornly drooped on my swing, swaying listlessly in the warm summer breeze. My mother had left under the pretense of fixing a snack for my sister and I, but in some contrived way I felt she was uncomfortable about the revelation she had just led, no, dragged me to. My sister, Zoe, was drawing hopscotch on the driveway with pink chalk, blissfully oblivious to the fact that her own parents were lying to her about benevolent, jolly, now literary-seeming characters that delivered seasonal gifts.
Well, that explains why some people get tons of toys for Easter and some just get a couple Peeps, I thought, trying to re-orient my mental schema to cover for the lack of an Easter bunny.
The wind toyed with my blonde ringlets. No, I didn’t write that wrong, and I’m not delusional. I see what my hair looks like now. I know that it’s brown and fluffy. But as a small child, I had child-star-quality blonde ringlets. They played beautifully off my red sparkly Mary Janes and the fluorescent pink band-aids that lived eternally on my forehead, mending my habit of tripping and falling into potholes.
Anyway, the wind swept a pendulum of curl in front of my face. I brushed it aside. I had always felt my parents were infallible. They always knew what to do and would never dream of deceiving me. Presumably, neither of my parents believed in the Easter Bunny, seeing as they (gulp) were him. But Easter reminded me that my dad believed in church while my mother did not. Who was right when my parents had opposing views? The intelligent, soft-spoken doctor who spun me in circles when he came home from work, or the strong, clever artist who had raised me with love and had spent every waking minute with me for my first four years?
I traced a line in the dirt with my red sparkly Mary Jane. I really, really wanted to go swimming in the lake. It always made me feel better, except the day it gave me some kind of weird itch in the small of my back. Things would make sense if I could just go for a swim. I stood up and padded into the house, climbing the steep, creaky basement stairs to the kitchen.
“Mama, can we go to the lake?” I asked nonchalantly, leaning my forehead against the kitchen counter she was slicing apples on.
“Uh, I was thinking we could take Molly for a walk in Hartley Park,” she said, not looking up from her slicing. Molly rolled over on her doggie bed, ears perked sharply to alertness at the sound of “walk.”
I slumped to the table and plunked down on the bench. It was occurring to me how little I really understood. I gazed forlornly at the microwave. How do microwaves even work? Is there fire in there, or what? But it hit me that regardless of whether or not I understood the microwave, it worked for me. And someday, like finding out the Easter Bunny isn’t real, I will learn how microwaves work, and hopefully even how love might work or important stuff like that. I sat up. A walk in Hartley Park sounded nice.