by | Feb 13, 2024 | Fiction, Issue Thirty-Seven

My watch vibrated and I pulled up the notification: Appointment: 1:00 pm.  Procedure: Mouth sewn shut.

Sarah sat on my lap as we cuddled, waiting.  We watched Peppa Pig and avoided looking at the clock as I held my arm around her.  I sweated through my t-shirt and felt her warm body against mine.  Her eyes stared straight ahead.

“Will I be able to sing?” asked Sarah.

They were sewing her mouth shut, maybe 80% closed.  She could still eat wet foods, smoothies through straws, and soups I would make.

“You’ll be able to hum, honey,” I said.

Sarah considered this.  “I shouldn’t have talked so much in class.” 

I thought back to her teacher, the unnamed, all-in-black woman, walking up and down the rows.  Sarah had a bubbly personality, even for grade 3.  It matched her yellow dresses and her activities playing with toads in the back yard.  Of course, she only wore yellow at home. 

Sarah opened her mouth wide and ran to the bathroom.

“How will I brush my teeth?” she asked.

“We’ll use mouthwash, sweetie,” I said.

I had gotten the first warning, then the official notice.  Our neighbours’ kid got the surgery last month – a little boy named Calvin, around Sarah’s age. Afterwards, the light in his eyes deadened, and at night, when our windows were open, I could hear a muffled scream caught in his throat.

My watch vibrated again: 5 minute warning.

“Should we sing?” I asked Sarah.  “One last time?”

She nodded and crawled into my lap.  I sang that she was my sunshine and made me happy when skies are grey.  I felt her body heat, her pulse strong against me.  Sarah put her fingers through my hair as I sang.  She looked at me and joined, asking to please not to take her sunshine away.  I gave her a squeeze.

There was a knock at the door.  Sarah, dressed all in black, took my hand.  She put her finger on my lips.  I took out a yellow handkerchief from my pocket, kissed it and put it in her hand.  She stuffed it inside her dress.  And we walked towards the door.

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