(When we were kids we loved for Momma to give us a piece of potato when she was peeling them for supper. It was a treat! I wrote this little piece for a writing class when asked to fictionalize a memory from childhood. Some of it rings true. I won't tell you which parts.)
I stand beside Momma waiting. She peels the potato in short, quick strokes with the sharp paring knife. I'm not allowed to use that knife. I can use the butter knife, though. It doesn't cut my skin. I ran it across the palm of my hand one time just to test it. It didn't hurt a bit. I keep waiting. I hope my little sister doesn't come in and start begging. That will just ruin it. I like for it to be just me and Momma. I pretend that she is all mine and I don't have to share with anyone. My friend Darlene doesn't have to share her mother with sisters. And I've got four of them.
Momma turns to me and smiles. She has the prettiest smile. I wish my eyes were brown like hers instead of watery blue. Nobody ever says that I look like Momma. They say that about my little sister. Never about me. That makes me jealous and makes me feel bad at the same time.
"Well, Miss Priss, I suppose this is what you've been waiting for so patiently?" Momma hands me a thick piece of potato. I bite into the crunchy wedge and nod my head. She laughs and turns back to the sink. "There's another slice on the counter for Vicki. Would you take it to her please?"
"Yes, ma'am." I sigh and reach up slowly for the chunk of potato. Momma puts her hands on my shoulders and turns me around. "Is there something wrong, Verla? "
I stand with my head down, embarrassed to look at her. How do I tell her I don't want to share with Vicki? That something as simple as a slice of potato while she cooks supper makes me feel special? How do I say it and not sound like a baby? I look up and shrug. "Nothing. Nothing's wrong."
Momma pulls out a kitchen chair and sits down. Lifting me onto her lap, she hugs me tightly. I can smell her perfume. I snuggle in closer and lay my head on her shoulder.
"I know you get tired of being the big sister," she says, "And little sisters aren't always fun to have around, but she loves you so much. Is it that hard to share a little piece of potato with her?"
"Oh, Momma, it's not the potato! She can have all the potatoes and I wouldn't care." My voice quivers and I feel tears start to slip out of the corner of my eye. I reach up and brush them away. I am not a baby.
Momma leans back in her chair. Lifting my chin, she turns my face so that we are eye to eye. She brushes a tear from my nose and presses her lips to my forehead. "Oh, Verla, if it's not the potato, what is it?"
I put my head back down. I can't look at her. "It's you, Momma. I don't want to share you."