They say necessity is the mother of invention, Nat remembered sullenly, blinking tired eyes. Her fingertips were raw and sore, imprints of metal wires and papercuts criss-crossed her thumb and forefinger. They don't mention a father. Guess he has other things to start.
What she really needed was a longer day. She didn't have time to invent that, though. Nat sighed and stretched her sore muscles, rotating her wrists and cracking her neck. Pipe cleaners littered the kitchen tiles, the wire and cloth frame of wings half-completed lay in front of her in a flickering pool of light, the concessions you make to support your kid.
Jake just would have bought the damn thing.
It was her wounded pride that made her blurt it out, unplanned, as they made the switch off after school. He was ruggedly handsome with his track suit and his fair-trade coffee, his SUV keys jangling in his free hand. "The Storybook Parade is next Monday, do you need me to..."
"I've got it," Nat cut in. "I'll make her costume. Thanks."
She loaded Maggie in the car without a backwards glance. Weekends were theirs and theirs alone, just like the years they had before Jake swooped in with his new wife and his new life.
When Maggie turned those beautiful brown eyes on her, what else could she do but acquiesce? Nat almost regretted it on Sunday night, stuck amid the growing pile of cotton scraps, dismantled wire hangers and googly eyes. She was a sucker for those eyes from the first time she saw them- a dusky navy, barely open until they gradually gave way to irises so dark you could hardly see her pupils. And always pleading for one thing or another.
"Please, Moooom?" the name long and drawn out. "I want to be a dragon!"
"Not a princess?"
"No, Mom. Dragons breathe fire."
So Nat sat. And sewed. And twisted. And bent and cursed and cried and tried to reinvent the wheel. Or at least, that's what it felt like. Because that's what she had always done for Maggie. Making Maggie happy was an addiction Nat never wanted to break. Research papers to write, rent past due, it all melted away in weekends full of exploring the world with her six year old.
She finished some time before dawn: multi-hued green scraps sewed and glued to shimmery webbing over wire bones and pipe cleaner joints. When Maggie shuffled down the hall and into the kitchen, she found her mother, arms crossed and face down before a hooded winged vest fit for a princess.
So, not sure when this happened, but I guess I'm writing now. Courtesy of Megan, I'm stretching my fingers (and my brain- remember the last time I did that?) and laying my thoughts bare for you. And for me. Because if you're reading, we're in this together.