But, It was Mine, by Thandi Ganya

Summer had always been my favorite time of year. The warm breeze travelled gently through my dark brown hair, all braided up and decorated with pink burettes to compliment the buttons on my overalls, carrying with it the warm scent of August air and the gleeful sounds of the singing robins. It felt like they were singing just for me. The sweet aroma of the flowering tree just outside of our apartment building filled my nostrils as I breathed in its natural allure. Observing all the lively, exciting colors of not-quite-fall, I noticed that it was the most beautiful tree I had ever seen. Soft, pink petals fell slowly past the slender, white trunk of the small tree, gently into the plush green grass. Fuzzy bumble bees zoomed all around looking for just the right flower to turn into honey. I never understood why people were so afraid of them—they were so cute, yellow and fuzzy.

Mommy took me across the street to Humboldt Park to play. I rode along comfortably in my little red wagon, fully equipped with the two most important things essential for any day trip: my grey penguin blanket to line the wooden bottom of my wagon and a box of graham crackers, tucked safely in my lap in case in got hungry. My mind allowed itself to wander, deep in thought about what kind of adventures we might go on today. Perhaps we would watch fish swim around the pond. Or maybe we wouldn’t. Maybe we would go to the jungle gym so I could try my hand at climbing the monkey bars. I wasn’t afraid of falling, the thought never once crossed my mind. However, the swings were pretty fun as well. I decided I’d do both. The moments ticked by suspensefully. The longest forty-five seconds of my life were the ones I waited to get to the park. I killed time by asking Mommy as many “what if” questions as I could before we got there, for she knew the answers to every last one of them. Sometimes she got tired and said she didn’t know, but I knew that she did. I knew that she knew the answer to everything and she could do anything in world because she was my mommy.

Eventually, finally, we got there. It was as beautiful as always. The sun illuminated the picture perfect sky, light blue and utterly cloudless like a painting worthy of display in the finest art museum ever built. I could hear the big kids laughing and playing in the vast, endless field, some distance away. One day I would know what they were laughing about and I’d laugh too. I could see fathers with their sons, ready to go fishing and daughters, most of them a lot older than me, with their mothers, playing and running jubilantly. There were little tiny babies in their strollers accompanied by both parents. The mommies played with their little tiny toes while the daddies smiled, taking in all the wonder and magic of the miniature human cooing at that pure bliss that lit up their faces. It didn’t cross my mind to ask myself if I had a daddy once, when I was a little tiny baby. Mommy, who knew everything, was all I needed.

We stopped for a quick second in front of the most magnificent tree in the whole park. Its leaves were all still green though many of the other trees had started to slightly change colors. Suddenly, without warning, a squirrel raced down the tree, fast like the road runner and pilfered the graham cracker right out of my hand. I sat in utter disbelieve, watching the dastardly squirrel race back up the tree again. “Mommy!” I shouted, pointing desperately up above. She took one look up and gasped with almost the same look of disbelief that I wore except it carried a slight hint of humor at the squirrel in the tree clutching the half eaten graham cracker. Then, as if this wasn’t enough, the squirrel raised the cracker as high up in the air as its little arms would let it and waved it around as if to mock me. I burst into tears. “Mommy! Get it back!” I screamed, for I knew she could. Mommy could do everything—anything in the world.

“I can’t” she said softly, fighting back laughter “the squirrel has it.” It had already begun taking small bites out of the corner, waving it in the air every few nibbles.

“No! It’s mine!” I reprimanded, “That’s not nice!” But the squirrel wouldn’t listen. It continued to gnaw at my graham cracker until finally deciding to disappear into the abundant shelter of that tall tree. “Mommy!” I screamed again. “Mommy, get it back its mine! Its mine!” but, she wouldn’t and I didn’t understand why. I knew she could. She could do anything and she knew everything.

My anguish quickly turned to anger. I was livid that, that rotten squirrel could take something that he knew wasn’t his. I would’ve told his mommy had I known where she was. Maybe she was out searching for food. She would bring home as many nuts and berries as her arms and her cheeks could carry only to find that when she got home, he will have already ruined his appetite with a half eaten graham cracker that wasn’t his and was probably too big for him anyway. Tears still streaming down my face, I ignored Mommy’s frequent attempts to get me to forget about my graham cracker by offering me another one, but I couldn’t—it was mine. Why didn’t she understand that? Why didn’t she get it back? Maybe she couldn’t. Maybe the squirrel was just too fast and the tree was just too tall for her to reach. I refused another one anyway and sat with my legs crossed and arms folded until all the anger was gone. And even though I played just as happily as always, I couldn’t, I wouldn’t, stop thinking about my graham cracker. It was mine.

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