Red, My Fortune Cookie

By Laura King Edwards

I treated myself to a manicure for Christmas on the way home from the office this afternoon. While I waited for the rich poinsettia red polish to dry, two new customers – a young woman in her 20s and a teenager who had to be her younger sister – searched for the perfect colors on the shelves in front of me.

I always get bored waiting for my nails to dry, and I found myself watching them out of the corner of my eye by the time they’d moved on from the solid reds to the sparkly pinks.

I’m not afraid to share my heart with the free world, but I was glad no one in the small salon noticed my tears as the two sisters smiled and laughed and rattled off colors like Red My Fortune Cookie and Charged Up Cherry and I Can’t Hear Myself Pink.

I don’t cry often. In fact, most times I find it difficult to cry. Because it isn’t the tragedy unfolding in front of me every day that cuts me to the bone. I see the writing on the wall. I know the fortune in my sister’s cookie. And in a strange way, I’m almost numb to my sister’s wheelchair and her sightless eyes and her wordless voice. I think maybe that’s my body’s way of protecting itself from feeling too much pain.

What’s far worse is seeing and knowing what could have been.

Taylor and Brooke at nail salon

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