by Clive Aaron Gill

When I was seven or eight years old, Mama and Papa fought a lot. They toned down their conversation when they heard me approaching.

On a Saturday morning, I thought of a plan to help my parents. That evening, I took Mama to her bedroom where I had laid her bluish-green, sequined evening gown on the bed.

‘What’s this about?’ she asked, with raised eyebrows.

‘You’ll see. Put on your makeup, your perfume, your dress, and your high-heeled shoes.’

‘Wait here,’ I said. ‘Promise?’

‘I promise,’ she said, with a bewildered look.

I took Papa to his study where I had laid out his formal clothes: a dress shirt, black tux, black bow tie and dancing shoes. With a grin, he followed my instructions to get dressed. Then I pulled Papa into the living room. Soon afterward I escorted Mama, who walked like a queen, towards Papa.

They faced each other with tight-lipped smiles.

‘Music,’ I yelled. ‘That’s what I forgot.’

I played a waltz on the record player and they moved with the rhythm. I got chills down my back when they looked into each other’s eyes. I clapped my hands and giggled.

‘Everything is working well,’ I thought. ‘I bet they could dance all night.’

‘Well, princess,’ Mama said, ‘thank you for your thoughtfulness. Now, off to bed.’

That night I dreamt of sunshine and the aroma of lilacs.

I woke up in the morning, feeling happy.

But, the next day, Mama and Papa fought again, and the scent of French perfume faded.

I knew then that one of my parents would soon pack a few things and abandon me.


Clive Aaron Gill’s short stories have appeared in numerous Internet magazines. Born in Zimbabwe, Clive has lived and worked in Southern Africa, North America and Europe. He received a degree in Economics from the University of California, Los Angeles and lives in San Diego.