"Zachs Animals"My name is Zach.I have a bird. She flies.I have a dog. He is white.I have a pig. He is very dirty.I have a rabbit. She has a lot of hair.Sometimes, I feel like I live in a zoo.The name of my bird is Sky.The name of my dog is Snow.The name of my rabbit is Fur Ball.I do not have a name for my pig yet.I want to have a lamb.I want to have a kitten.I want to have a duck.Mom says, “Not yet.”I can’t live without my animals.
"Just One Touch"I am sitting in a chair next to Momma’s bed. I am watching her getready for a party.She opens the beautiful jewelry box on her nightstand.It is the size of a shoebox. It is wooden. It has colorful stones on top.They are red, green, yellow and blue. To me, the box looks magical.It looks like it has special powers.“Now, you know you must never touch this box, right?” Mommasays. I feel like she knows exactly what I am thinking.I just want to touch it. I just want to open it.I just want to try on all the jewelry inside and dance aroundthe room!“Yes, Momma,” I say. “I know.”What do I know?I know Momma has always told me not to touch the box. She hassaid it since I was a little girl.“You are not old enough to wear my jewelry,” Momma says.I am 11-years-old now! What is the big deal ?I know that when Momma puts on the rings and bracelets from thebox, she looks different. She seems to glow.There is one necklace with a yellow stone like a tiger’s eye. WhenMomma puts this on, she seems tofloat instead of walk. Her feet donot seem to touch the ground. She moves lightly and gracefully. Shemoves without effort.
Momma kisses me goodnight. She leaves for the party. I run to thewindow to wave to her, but she is already gone.Tonight I am very curious.Just one touchI sit on the edge of Momma’s bed. I place my hand on thenightstand. I pause. I think.My hand moves up and rests on the jewelry box. The box quicklyflips open by itself! Jewels fly into the air. They dance around myhead. I feel strange. I fall down to the floor.I wake up in a place I have never seen before. "The New School"Tracey is starting a new school today.She is very sad. She is very scared.“I don’t want to go to school today,” Tracey tells her dad.“I understand, sweetheart,” Dad says. “Starting a new school can bevery scary.”Tracey has moved to a new town. She has moved to a new house.She is starting a new school today. She has done all of this in aweek!“I feel sick,” Tracey says. “My stomach hurts. I can’t eat breakfast.”
“I think that is because you are nervous,” Dad says. He brushesTracey’s hair down. He gives her a little hug. “Try drinking just a littlejuice. Then I will walk you to school.”Tracey and her dad walk to school.Tracey thinks about many things.Will I make friends?Will I like my teacher?What if I don’t know the answer to a question?Will kids laugh at me?What if no one likes me?“We’re here,” says Dad.Tracey looks up at the big building. Her other school was small.Tracey wishes she could run away.She knows she cannot.She takes a deep breath.She walks up the steps to school.She walks into her third grade classroom.“That must be Tracey,” she hears a boy say.“Hello, Tracey!”“Welcome, Tracey!”“Let me show you around.”Everyone seems kind. Tracey feels a little better.She is still not happy. She is still a little scared. She cannot eat her
lunch.Dad picks Tracey up after school.“How was your day?” he asks.“Okay,” she says.“It will get better,” Dad says. “Big changes are hard.”“I know,” says Tracey. She reaches for her dad’s hand to hold asthey walk home. "Scorpion"Soon after Navi got engaged to Roberto, she went to meet his familyin Mexico.She had heard many a story of Roberto’s birth city of Guanajuato,and they had all captivated her. At one time, this colonial city wasthe source of two-thirds of the world’s silver.“Our family goes to a beautiful church in Guanajuato,” Roberto hadtold her while they courted in the United States. “It is said that silverdust was mixed into the cement building blocks and that is why thechurch sparkles.”Navi had been enthralled. Roberto always told such wonderfulstories. She could not wait to see the city and meet all of Roberto’sfamily. Navi was an artist and knew that the trip would inspire her tocreate.While Roberto had imparted Navi with all the wonders of hisbeautiful city, it had not occurred to him to mention any dangers.
They were young. They were in love. They lived only in the moment.Navi was speechless when she saw the Oratorio de San Felipe. “Itreally does sparkle!” she exclaimed.Navi kissed Roberto on the cheek. “I’ll meet you outside,” she said,leaving the church.She pulled her sketchpad and pencils from her bag and went to sitagainst one of the glorious palm trees outside the church. Shebegan sketching the colossal cupola which extended three storiesabove the nave.Suddenly, a sharp pain took hold of her left shoulder. It felt like anelectrical shock. The pain began topervade the rest of her body.She had been stung by a pernicious scorpion!The last thing Navi remembered was Roberto kneeling by her side.She woke up a week later with him holding her hand and telling hera story. “In Mexico, scorpions are ubiquitous. There are morescorpion deaths here than in any other place in the world. And theylove palm trees,” he said, rubbing her hand with tears of relief in hiseyes. “I should have mentioned that before.” "Dreams"The relationship between my mother, sister and me had been coldand inimical for as long as I could remember.To me, my mother was irrational, often hurling hurtful invectives forthe slightest infraction. My sister, five years my senior, seemed notto have a brain in her head. Tammy dithered about everything,incapable of making any firm decision. No matter how often my
mother deprecated her -- “dumb, ugly, fat”—Tammy made futileattempts to fawn her way back into mother’s good graces.My father would pontificate, “You three are more alike then youknow.”In April of 2000, my mother kicked us both out of the house. (Dadhad been exiled many years before.)My sister and I went our separate ways. It was then that I beganhaving recurring dreams.In one, I am running to catch up with a woman. Each time I get near,I trip and fall. Another woman comes with great alacrity and offersher hand, but when I reach to grab it, she disappears.In another, a female professor hands me a test. Although I havespent hours studying for it, I know none of the answers. Theprofessor derides me for my poor performance.These dreams were not hard to understand. In fact theywere pellucid , and absent any knowledge of dream interpretation, Iwas still able to devise their significance. I knew that they bothreflected thepugnacious relationship I shared with my mother andsister.However, there was one dream I could never quite construe. I biteinto an apple. All of my teeth fall out. I had this dream far more thanany of the others.Years later, in an effort to heal our fractious relationship, Mom,Tammy and I would elect to go to counseling together. After severalsessions, I tell my dream about teeth tumbling out of my head.“My God,” said my mother. “I’ve had the exact same dream manytimes.”“Me too,” said Tammy solemnly.
Breakthrough? No idea. But I was reminded of the words of my now-dead father. Perhaps the three of us are more alike than we know.