Becky was ten when she started coming into our office to spend time with her Mom and to *help* us with our work. We gave her drivers’ logs to organize by name and date. The entire time she sat at the old green metal desk with the drawers that screeched when opened, she chattered. Did we think Cinderella or Snow White had the better life? Did we think it was true someday we’d find ice on Saturn’s moons? Her mom and I would turn to smile at each other when she wouldn’t notice.
Nothing balanced on the days Becky came to work. The financial statements I worked on took longer to complete. I would be deep in debit-credit thought when Becky would murmur Oh Randy. Allowing her the privacy of a teenaged crush, I kept working with my adding machine – the big monster thrashed and bounced on my desk, chugging out one division problem in 4.5 seconds. A little bit of time would pass and then she would sigh, Oh Everett. Once I left my desk to look for a pretend rolodex card just so I could watch her — she was writing notes to her favorite drivers and kissing the heart-shaped paper before stapling them on the drivers’ logs. Randy Dear, Please sign the bottom of your log. Love, Becky.
Her mom told me later that Becky was her spark — her color purple. Life with Becky was unexpected. Like the color purple, one never knew when she would burst into your space. Her two sisters were green and blue- something you encountered every day, but Becky was a surprise. She was the one who ate pickles while playing Horse basketball with the boys across the street. She’d set the pickle on the asphalt driveway when it was her turn to shoot. She’d make her shot and retrieve her pickle. She was the one who could not be contained, the one who could not be kept. On the day I learned I was pregnant with my own daughter, I was driving back to work from the doctor’s office listening to the radio. A highway fatality was on the news.
(My dad sent me this photo this morning. I think he wrote it was from the Sun River, but as soon as I saw the purple blooms on the gravelbar, I was reminded of Becky.)