“Pisz-ghetti,” she smilingly sputtered through tomato teeth.

“Spaghetti,” I softly replied, curling the corners of my mouth into a tenuous smile. Finger to my lips, I reminded her to “shoosh”, sotto voce.

Her mother and I shared table-length glances, helping each other find firmer footing on which to perch our silent smiles.

Kim giggled, letting a sloppy noodle drape down over her chin, sauce staining her white smock. Bashful eyes fearing some baleful response, she gave in to tears.

“I’m so sorry Mommy!” she squawked, thinning dinner with her tears. Bonnie was first by her side, kneeling to catch stray dinner-lets and brush back hair. “Pisz-ghetti” was tolerable as long as it was a pronunciation and not a hair bow.

Another glance, this one decidedly not a smile, had me off my seat and helping clean up relief.


The aftershock rocked and rolled like music I only vaguely remember hearing.

We embraced, sloppy as we were, softly sobbing, knowing we only had each other.

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