Ansiedad

I gave birth to my daughter as I sat on the steps of the library, the rain soaking through my gray wool socks and spattering on my glasses. She materialized from my breath vapor, appearing in front of me in her black skintight turtleneck and pale skin. Ansiedad, that’s her name. She took my worries from me, carried them in the old leather suitcase she found behind the Chinese restaurant downtown, the one that I took her to on the rainy day of her birth, the one where we discovered her love for egg drop soup. I’ve never told her I loved her or served her warm cookies with milk. She crawled into my bed late last night, and stared at me, her little finger tracing the outlines of my lips. My eyelids were too heavy to stay open; sleep was a thick blanket into which I disappeared. Sometimes, I imagine her on a train, my worries bouncing slightly in the suitcase on the worn seat, the world passing by in a blur outside the window. I imagine her tucking herself to sleep, bringing her bony knees to her chest and falling into a dreamless black nothing. When I look in the mirror, I see the black circles under my eyes and wonder if she has them too, my daughter. I tried to look for her. I went to the market on the corner of Hill and Slide, to the abandoned theme park by the rotting pier, even to the smelly movie theater.  Ansiedad , I cried as I stood in the middle of the tall pines of the forest, hearing my voice slipping though the spaces between the trees. Since she left me, I do not worry, she took that ability away. I cry, I laugh, I sputter but I do not worry. I visit the Chinese restaurant, the one that I took Ansiedad to on the day of her birth. The red pleather seat squeaks as I slide into the booth, the air slightly thickened with cigarette smoke and the smell of eggrolls. The egg drop soup is as warm and salty as I remember. The foolish thing is that I expect my daughter to round the corner, holding the old leather suitcase in her delicate hand. I expect her to give me back my worries. I expect her to return to me as she came, materializing into breath vapor. Inhaled, then exhaled.

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