Arabella laid the tiny coloured stones on the blanket in front of her. Then picked each one up in her thick little fingers, turning it round and round catching the light of the sun. The colours were magnificent. She held the deep blue of the ocean, the red of a lover’s rose, the green of a lawn rich in early spring. The colours reflected their best in her hands, up and down from the blanket into her world, making it richer with each look.
“Arabella, get in here,” the sound of her mother’s voice cut into the deep blue of the ocean where the little girl found herself grabbing the fin of a dolphin and skimming into the green blue of the waves.
“In a minute momma, in a minute.” But she made no attempt to move from off the blanket. “Just one more minute,” her voice a whisper as the next gem spun through her thoughts, a gold that only a daffodil in full bloom could match.
As her mind played in the fields of colour, a dark grey cloud moved its away across the face of the sun, blocking out the radiant light. It took the richness of Arabella’s world away from her. The vibrancy of the red, the calming of the turquoise, lost for a moment now.
“I’m coming momma,” Arabella scooped up the stones, and dropped them back in the string bag.
“Help me set the table, and get it done before your father gets home.” Her mother’s words were sharp, clipped, angry. Arabella felt the feelings again, the ones that came up to her throat, the ones that made her stomach knot. She took her thoughts back to the red of the ruby in her string bag, the gems of her kingdom where she could go at a moments notice. “And don’t forget the dessert bowls. You always forget the dessert bowls.” The woman dried her hands on a greying towel and stared at her daughter sitting down in the chair now, the table half set.
“What do you think you’re doing Arabella? The table ain’t set yet, but you are. I’m tired baby girl of having to nag you to do anything to the finish. What’s the matter with you anyway?”
“Listen momma,” Arabella held the string bag up and jiggled the stones around inside. “Listen to how soft they sound. They’re so beautiful momma. Each colour. Come on out and see for yourself.” The little girl got up from the table and walked back outside. The sun was back now, the cloud having moved from its face.
Moments later, the black Pontiac pulled up in the driveway, and Arabella quickly scooped up the stones and slid them back in the bag, then hid the bag under the patch of grass beneath the blanket.
“Daddy,” she rose to her feet and ran to the car. “I’m so glad you’re home.” She threw small chubby arms around his waist and waited for a returning squeeze. Instead, the hands pulled her arms from him. “Let go Arabella,” he moved toward the house. “I don’t have time for this now.” She followed behind, her head lowered, not speaking, then turned around and walked back to the blanket and her colourful gems.
The deep blue one brought her back to the ocean. She could hear the sound of her mother’s voice calling from somewhere, but she didn’t pay attention. After all, the blue was too beautiful to be interrupted by anything but the yellow of the sun, or the delicious green of the emerald.
“What’s with that girl anyway,” her father glanced from the window at his daughter, then, “get in here and eat your dinner,” the roughness of his voice making her smile.
“In a minute daddy, In a minute. I still have a few more colours to go.” Her chubby fingers dropping each of the colours back in the bag until tomorrow, when the warmth of the sun would make them take her places far far away, once more.
“In a minute daddy.” She whispered from her perfect world.
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