At home, finally done as the sun's coming up, Jackie looks exhausted and beautiful. She sits with Kevin in the kitchen, leaning back into his arms, with the sun flaring beautifully behind them. "There was this kid..." she says, and then changes the subject, except not really: "How's Gracie?"
He almost shudders, and holds her tighter. "Meltdown. Her pencil kept breaking and she couldn't... She fell apart." Jackie nods. "Okay." And again, letting it fall, letting it break and be true: "Okay." So we fix this. Kevin heads upstairs and she looks at the beach picture on the fridge.
I think if I'd had operating parents I wouldn't have loved the Little Robber Girl so much. I think when you're working right, that's what you are, for your kids: You fix the problems and stay out of the way. You give them what they need. You explain the way the world works, and you color outside the lines and you carry the heavy stuff, so they don't have to. But we're not just parents, ever: We're people, too. And so if Jackie's the Robber Girl for somebody else's daughter, some other Greta climbing up another cold mountain, all alone, looking for something she hopes she lives long enough to identify... I mean, doesn't that count for something?
It's cold outside, and bright. Jackie stares into space, thinking about the goddamn sunshine state, when her cell rings. She answers immediately: "Just breathe, honey." It's Stephanie: the regimen went down when they got home just fine, but now she's awake and she can't move her arm, it hurts too much. Jackie nods, and tells her to find a Percocet, "the blue one," and cut it with a butter knife. She moves along with the story, snapping her own little blue Percocet in half. She lifts her orange juice. "Give it to your mom with a little juice." She drinks it, down. "Okay," says Stephanie.
Jackie stares into space, thinking about Florida. It's cold outside, and bright. She thinks about Stephanie, and her mother; and Gracie, and her mother. About illness, and weakness, and the pain we think we're hiding from our children, until the day we realize that's impossible, and always was. When you admit you need a Robber of your own, before you rob her of something she'll never get back.
Jackie stares into space, thinking about Florida. It's cold outside, and bright.
"She'll be fine," she lies.
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