M has no sense of time, like most four-year-olds. In her hand is a toy Jack-o-lantern that makes noise and lights up. The orange is fading and we’ve had to tape shut the plastic covering for the batteries. We’ll have it for as long as we possibly can because my father gave it to us for D’s and my first Halloween together.
“We’ll get the Christmas tree tomorrow, right? But this is for Halloween. We went trick or treating last night, right? We had candy. Like on my birthday yesterday. Are we going to Disneyland tomorrow? We went with Auntie on Friday.” She contemplates the pumpkin and then informs me that she can have candy but her brother A can’t. “I like candy and trick or treating. I don’t get scared, do I, mama? The tree is gonna be pretty fun tomorrow!”
I continue to clean the stove as she chatters and laughs, Christmas and Halloween candy in her mind, the two ideas intertwined like the red and white of a candy cane. And right next to the candy cane hangs her birthday, Easter, Hanukkah, trips to Disneyland and the local market where her daddy buys her trinkets. All in the month of March.
I wipe down the splashed oil from fried chicken, just like my mother used to make. M is next to me now, having taken up a towel and a spray bottle full of water for her use. She sprays happily the cupboards.
“We’re working, right, mama?”
“Yes, we’re working very hard.”
I like her vision of time, squashed together, a blended blur of places, colors, scents, tastes, and faces. It’s pure. She has no concept of the end of time, no idea that time will change, warp. Time will speed up for her, slow down, twist and curve. She doesn’t know, can’t comprehend, that there will be a time where she can pinpoint to the hour the Christmas where she got her first bottle of perfume from her cousin and the one where she ended up crying herself to sleep because her lover was with someone else. It will be a while before she can understand the idea of someone’s “last Christmas.” She doesn't know that she'll forget just as much.
“I talked to Ryan last night, mama. He called me last night. He’s my friend. I have a pony tail like Miss ‘aria. You know Miss ‘aria?”
“Yes, I know Miss Maria. She’s your favorite pre-school teacher.”
The pots are sitting in the sink and I start to tackle them, turning on the faucet and touching the stream, waiting for the water to turn hot. I plug the drain and pour the orange soap into the pool of water. M grabs a chair and slides it fast across the kitchen so she can stand on it, so she can be closer to my height and be able to help wash. We share the chore of scrubbing. Bubbles fly in the air and we grab at them and giggle easily. I kiss her on the cheek and tell her she’s beautiful like a flower. She says I am, too, “everyone’s a flower, mama.”
I see one bubble floating upwards, the sun creating stripes of color in the film, and I watch as it misses M's curls and an open cupboard, watch until it touches the ceiling and disappears in a silent burst.