Saltwater Nipple

Mama floats in the sea while papa fights with white lotion before falling on his tummy to read a book with no pictures. Lumpy white splotches of lotion on his back look like a bubble bath on the beach.

Mama is from Japan. Papa is from the mainland.

I stare up at a baby blue sky and watch a manu o’ ku soar, searching for food. I close my eyes and fall asleep.

Papa got frustrated at the driver’s license center while registering mama for her test. He became impatient with the nice, slow woman behind the desk. Sometimes he doesn’t like to wait. I rolled my eyes—not again. I let it go. I cried loudly. My screams were so loud, Papa had to take me outside and wheel me up and down the sidewalk. I watched him carefully, crying until he finally calmed down.

Mama lost her contact lens. Mama and I took the bus to the contact lens shop. Mama doesn’t have much confidence using English—she becomes nervous and scared. At the shop, a woman saw mama looking in a display case. The woman asked, “Looking for some contact lenses?” Mama froze. I rolled my eyes—not again. I kicked the seat of my stroller and cooed loudly to get their attention. I smiled and giggled. Mama and the woman laughed together.

“Ohh, so cute. How old?”
“4 months, almost.” Mama understood the question.
“She’s adorable.”
“Thank you,” Mama replied, relaxed.

A breeze wakes me, blowing my thin blanket into ripples that look like the surface of the sea from which mama has just returned.

She stands over me now. I kick my legs and begin to cry to tell her I’m hungry. Mama picks me up, and I scan the sky again. The bird is gone.

Instead, I see a saltwater nipple glide over my mouth, tickling my lips into a knowing smirk that never flies away.

Talk story

Leave one comment for Saltwater Nipple

This website uses cookies to offer you a better browsing experience. By browsing this website, you agree to its use of cookies.