Puddle Splashing


It was the perfect Madison, fall day. My two and a half year old daughter was the queen of Vilas Zoo, prancing from giraffe to ostrich, flamingo to rhino. My 1 year old sat humming in a bag pack chewing on a toy; he was the king of my back.

We came to an open area which offered many options, snacks, picnics, polar bears, black bears and birds. My daughter seriously scanned her options and then chose, instead, to go straight for a puddle created by the previous day’s rain.  I watched her place the ball of her right foot in the water. She gave me one right eye, smiled that kind of a smile we mother’s know as, “I just found a piece of really old candy on the floor and I am telling no one!!”  I smiled back but did not a thing.

She jumped!

Her light blue shoes turned navy;

She jumped!

Her pink pants became soggy, drenched a deep, dark red.

She jumped!

Her laughter brought on a feeling of tingly euphoria;  I was sweetly tipsy.

Next to my daughter was a friend of hers who slurped that puddle up with envious eyes; he headed straight for it. Before he was able to dive in feet first his mommy panicked, “No! We don’t have a change of clothes.” He was a good boy; he stopped, dropped his head, and walked back to her dry as a desert. She glared at me and reprimanded, “I can’t believe you are letting her get all wet!”

As if in quicksand, my mind left that autumn day and found itself on a cold, winter day in December; Dec. 31st 1981. That day became a line on my palm. My older, half sister just picked me up from a sleep over. We were heading back home. We were very close to our neighborhood when she pulled over. She was delegated the unfortunate job of telling me my mother had died the night before. Probably while I was eating an Oreo and playing Mrs. Packman.

When we walked through the front door I saw that my kitchen was converted into an anthill of frantic, nervous Jews. There were bagels, cream cheese, pastrami platters, corned beef; so many strangers and familiar faces asking me if I was hungry.  And there were tears. Tears that were black and sticky, painting my face with charcoal grey streaks. So many red nails and polish all through my hair, wrapped all over my body.


I ran upstairs to find my father sitting in his favorite over-sized chair, paralyzed. The chair about to swallow him whole.  “Dad, can we get another one?”

“No Jessie.”


I sprinted down the steps; I was a race car, the finish line the end of my driveway.

Why there?

Past the driveway there was nothing. Behind me there was nothing and everything.

I found myself looking down at a puddle which used to be a mound of old snow, before the cars, the ants…the chaos…. In this puddle I saw the reflection of a scared seven year old girl.

I jumped!

In went the patent leather shoes;

I jumped!

Then the white tights turned a spotted, dirty grey;

I jumped!

The hem and skirt of my velvet dress became  heavy with slush. A few droplets made it into my mouth and I tasted, what I know now is, the succulence of childhood. For a short , sweet moment, before my disappearance was discovered, I forgot she would not be home when I returned from school; I forgot… I was motherless.

My eyes focused again on my daughter and her buddy who were now heading towards the polar bear. As we followed, I turned and looked at the boy’s mommy who lingered behind me. She was still looking at me as if I stripped down into my skivvies right there in the middle of the zoo.. She was baffled. “You don’t care that she is sopping wet?”


“I don’t.”


Please read my Dear friend Ann Imig, as well as other talented writers:


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s