Wrong Season (for Joyce Carol Oates)
by Janice Daugharty
Copyright 2010 Janice Daugharty
First Published in Ontario Review
I wonder for maybe the tenth time this evening why that mama wren with the worm in her beak doesn't go ahead and eat it. Why she keeps dipping from the eaves to the shrubbery, cranking her head side to side, watching me paint my nails Flame. Waiting for me to leave so she can feed her keening chicks in the nest on the rafter above my swing. With all those trees across the highway and behind my double-wide, why did she have to pick this place for a nest? Late summer--not even the right season for nesting.
I'm not leaving, not till my nails dry. She can go on and eat the worm. I hold up my red nails and blow them, and the wren on the scrubby shrub kites up to the roof where it's raining with the sun shining.
Almost dry, not a smudge, and just in time: I showered about an hour ago, and I'm starting to sweat; I hear Rambo and Tweety in the kitchen, begging supper. Long as The Lion King is, it never lasts long enough. I hate it when the sun starts shining while it's raining, because then the day seems to start over. If the clearing sky would only stay cloudy, I could put the babies to bed earlier and call it night time without them catching me in a lie. Then Damon would call, then he might come over, then...
I try to imagine what it'll be like--what it might have been like before Ronnie, my ex, and the two babies, born two years apart. Just me and Damon alone in some room I can't picture outside of this double-wide I've lived in since I got out of high school and married Ronnie. Not at Mama's, two mobile homes up the highway, at the Cornerville city limits sign. Not with my goody-goody brother always dropping by after supper. All I can say is, God have mercy on her soul.