“We’re here, Rao,” she says in what Rao recognizes as her patient voice, “because she was your real-mom and we show respect.”
“What’s resect?” Rao says. He wipes his nose on the sleeve of his boring, no-glow jacket. The jacket is black, like everyone else’s, and he hates it.
“It’s when you don’t stick your tongue out,” says Nima. She’s half a head taller than Rao and knows everything in the world. She pokes Rao’s shoulder and sticks her tongue out. He answers as he always does: by flailing at her with his little fists. Nima laughs.
“Hush, Nima,” says two-mom. She gently catches Rao’s arms and pulls him away from Nima.
“Respect,” says two-mom, “is when you care for someone, and listen to them, and behave well.”
“What’s care for?” Rao say. Two-mom has got his entire attention, the altercation with Nima already forgotten. Rao loves it when two-mom explains. It makes him feel like he’s the center of the universe.
This story came to me as I was walking down the road, holding my daughter’s hand. It sort of flashed to the image of a funeral and I started writing it in my head. All I needed to do wash write it down when I got home.
Of course, nobody understood it and my critiquing partners helped me out by pointing out all the embarrassing spelling errors and stuff that didn’t make sense.
After that, the story wrote itself…