Table for Eight
by Esther Avila
“Perfect,” Emma said to herself as she placed a small vase with a handful of daisies in the center of a small round table. Eight veneer dessert plates were already carefully placed – each on a pretty paper doily.
Emma glanced at the clock before smoothing her blue dress down with both of her hands.
She loved the color of the dress – and the matching blue ribbon keeping her long ponytail in place. It reminded her of the robin eggs she had seen while on a picnic with her mother.
“Look here, Emma,” her mother had said as the 9-year-old child peeked into the nest. “New life will begin soon.”
Emma tried to remember what they talked about. But she couldn’t. She missed her mother and she tried not to think of the day her mother left.
Emma peered out the large window. Her mother had called and promised to join her for tea. But there was no sign of anyone coming.
“Emma Johnson – a most interesting case,” said Dr. Jason Sanders to three young psychiatrist interns as they watched the little girl in the blue hospital gown through a two-way mirror. “Child Protective Services picked her up from a filthy home. Her mother had been dead for two days – alcohol and overdose. Poor kid. As they took her from her home, she ran to the sink and salvaged those little dishes. She sets that table every day and waits.”