Saturday mornings on Harding Road were usually spent watching cartoons while Mom baked cookies and caught up on household chores. Daddy, when he wasn’t out climbing, lounged in his royal blue bathrobe, reading the paper and smoking his pipe. Mid-morning, Mom and I would run errands around town—to the dry cleaners, the grocery store, the gardening center. If I was good, she’d let me have a pack of bubble gum, or, on extra special occasions, take me shopping for a doll or a new dress.
But not today, not this Saturday. Today was my father’s service. Today would be spent in church.
It had been four days since we’d received news of the accident and the day before Daddy was supposed to come home. Family had been dispatched, friends had driven up. This was not the shape of the Saturdays I knew.
I’d slept fitfully the night before. In the weeks before he’d left for Canada, my father began reading The Call of the Wild to me at bedtime but hadn’t finished the story. The violent tale of Buck and the Alaskan sled dogs haunted me and had crept into my dreams. That night, I’d dreamt a pack of wolves had skulked through the cornfields and into the forest behind our house. In droves they came, surrounding the perimeter of our property and crouching in wait at the forest’s edge. They had come to take me away.
When I woke that morning, I went to my window and stood at the sill looking furtively from the edge of our driveway to the small cluster of trees that lined the adjacent property across the street. The nightmare felt so real, I was sure I’d catch a glimpse of a pair of green eyes glowing up at me from the shadows.
I was still peering out when I noticed a ray of sunlight catch hold of the tear-shaped crystal prism that hung by a pink satin ribbon from the lock of my window. It cast a small rainbow patch on the floor. I stepped on the patch, and the colors transferred to my skin. I felt the slight warmth of the sunshine on my foot and was comforted. There was magic, I knew, in rainbows.
After breakfast my mother helped me pick out what to wear. From my closet she pulled the three new dresses we’d purchased less than a week before, the dresses we’d bought in preparation for Daddy’s homecoming. She laid them out on my bed. I glanced at the one I’d planned to wear to the airport, the white one with the bright floral print and big sash.
“This one,” I said picking up a corduroy dress in red and purple paisley that lay furthest from it on the bed. “I want to wear this one.”