was left was space. Deep black space. I saw all the planets in the solar system and then, way far out there, the end of the galaxy and the beginning of the next, and then the end of that galaxy and the beginning of the next; and everywhere I saw ribbons and folds of every color imaginable, and millions upon millions of twinkling white hot stars, most of them fixed in place just like the glow-in-the-dark stars glued onto the ceiling above my bed that Mom bought on sale at CostMart, but a few of the stars fell and spun and exploded and fizzled down into the blackness. And It went on forever, and it was so endless that it was like looking at everything.
So, as I said, I was thinking about nothing really worth thinking about. Still, it was nice, you know, to just lie there feeling the cool wet grass on the backs of my arms and legs. I felt an ant crawl under my shirt and start to work its way up my stomach. I was in such a mellow mood that it didn’t even bother me.
Then the sun went dark, like an eclipse. The eclipse turned out to be Mom’s head. From where I lay, and from where she stood, it looked like her head was put on backwards. Mom looked down at me, her mouth where her eyes should have been, and her lips the wrong way, and her nose turned round so I could see right into her nostrils. Behind Mom’s head the two blue halves of sky fluttered back together until there was just a seam of space left where I had snipped open the sky with the pair of Nikki’s scissors. That’s when I saw a woman’s hand zipper the seam that closed the universe.
It was Mrs. Redding’s hand. I recognized it from the pink, perfectly manicured nails and the plain gold wedding band she wore on her ring finger. I had watched Mrs. Redding’s hand perform the exact same movement last Wednesday morning after I had spent the night at the Redding’s house, only with a zipper on the back of my best friend Valerie’s skirt.
“Why are you lying there on the grass like that?” Mom wanted to know.
An airplane moved across the sky, its vapor trails reminding me of the lines made by the green felt pens that my Language Arts teacher, Ms. Starburn, uses to underline metaphors in books. I watched the airplane enter one of Mom’s ears, disappear inside her head, then reappear outside her other ear.
“Mercy—” Mom said, saying my name, but then she stopped. A second later she started to breathe hard. I knew what was coming next. She was going to have an asthma attack.