Ellie in Weather
Ellie stands, alone, at the end of the driveway. Her nose drips onto her little nylon windbreaker, insufficient in the cold. Her sister stomps her feet on the gravel, tells Ellie to do the same. Ellie's little slanted eyes tear from the wind and her nose visibly throbs. Her sister waits and watches for the curtains to part, when their mother will let them back into the house. It's 27 degrees, Ellie's sister says. She tries to run after Ellie, tries to get her to move her little body, to keep her warm, but only succeeds in knocking her down. She pulls her up by one little arm and sets her down, hard, on her rubber tipped canvas sneakers. Her sister notices that her socks do not match. Let's say those words again, she tells, Ellie, who is whimpering now. Hexachlorophene is her favorite. Hexachlorophene, Ellie. Say it! Ellie puckers her little mouth, the throbbing of her nose more visible now. Hexachlorophene, Ellie, her sister says, louder and louder. She grabs her around her waist and squeezes her close. Say it like you did before, remember? She rubs at Ellie's already raw cheeks with her frozen hands. Her fingernails are blue, just like nail polish. The curtains are still closed, though Mr. Man, their mother's friend, has just left through the front door. Ellie and her sister watch him light a cigarette on the sidewalk, taking a long draw. Ellie's sister imagines how warm the smoke must feel, and would like to fold herself inside of Mr. Man for just a little bit and pull in what is coming out of his mouth. She leans down and breathes in Ellie's face, cold, unproductive puffs of air. At the same time Ellie begins to cry, the curtains are parted. Ellie's sister picks her up and toddles to the door that Mr. Man has left partially open. Their mother stands in the kitchen, leaning down to light her long brow cigarette from the blue ring on the stove. She glances down at Ellie and smiles, her eyes shiny gold. She wears next to nothing, but does not seem cold. Her pubic hair looks soft, and Ellie pats it every so lightly. She looks down at Ellie and smiles, her eyes shiny gold, but she does not speak. Ellie's sister pushes her in front of her mother. Their mother's nipples, erect, point at them as though accusing them of something terrible. Hexachlorophene, Ellie. Say it, Ellie's sister says. Ellie's sister is crying now, stamping her feet. Ellie stands frozen in place. Ellie's sister closes the curtains. Outside, the wind screams. It sounds like it might be trying to say something, but who really knows.