She stood in the time-out corner against the sliding glass door and bookshelf, and wagged her finger up at me to tell me I am not in charge.
Yellow morning sun burst through the glass between us and we watched where it landed on the self-help section of the bookshelf like a prayer.
She is coming to know how delirious safety feels, when someone else leads the charge for you, how safe it feels to stand in your own corner and point your sword at anyone taller than you,
that exhilaration of throwing words at people who hear the cracks in your voice and dare them because something tells you they are the hope once held in your folded hands tied to a bedpost
like a stone. You are not in charge, she said. Her voice was thin. I looked at her through the trapped light between us and closed my eyes for a second when she threw her arms to her waist.
I just want to tell you, she huffed, stomping her feet toward the light, that I would like to apologize. And I marveled at this five-year-old and the words she said that seemed too big
at the same time opening my eyes to stop waiting, to go to my knees by that bookshelf and the light and the corner where she dropped her sword.
Jackie McManus is the author of The Earthmover’s Daughter and the forthcoming chapbook, Related to Loon. She is published in Sky Island Journal, VoiceCatcher, Cathexis Northwest, Thimble Literary Magazine, among others. She divides her time between Wisconsin and Washington.