By Jocelyn Jane Cox
I nestle into the covers beside my mother at naptime. I hold her arm in front of my face to examine her skin.
“How many do you think you have?” I ask.
“Oh I don’t know.” She laughs. “Hundreds? Maybe thousands?”
“I think millions,” I say with awe and proceed to count them.
At work one day, I notice that my shirt, bag, notebook, and umbrella are all patterned with polka dots. I chuckle about this and show my work bestie.
“I might need to do an intervention,” she jokes and I nod in agreement. But we both know I won’t change my style.
I don’t wear polka dots, squint at the stars, over-use ellipses, marvel at the pointillists, or crack unseemly amounts of pepper onto my food in honor of my mother’s skin. Or I don’t think I do, anyway.
“Life is complicated,” I tell my son, long after she is gone. “There are a million ways to think and a million ways to be. A million different things can happen, including a million things you don’t expect, and most of them are okay.” Most of them.
He holds my arm up in the sunlight, my sleeve falling back to my elbow, and, just like I had, he proceeds to count.
Jocelyn Jane Cox holds an MFA in fiction from Sarah Lawrence College. Her memoir-in-progress, Zebra Party, is about losing her mother on her son’s first birthday. Her essays, short fiction, and humor have appeared or are forthcoming in Slate, Brevity Blog, Roanoke Review, Penn Review, Belladonna Comedy, Slackjaw, and Five Minutes. She has been nominated for a Pushcart Prize. She lives near Nyack, NY with her husband and son.