“Auntie Ro, can we go on our adventure today?”

When my niece was four, and I thought I was too, we’d go deep into the woods to search for gnomes.

Just the two of us.

In our imaginations, the gnomes with their tall red hats and overalls left us treats in the crevices of old tree knots.

Or on the ground in moss patches that looked like mini trampolines.

The gifts they left were ours for the keeping. They would never ask for them back.

Madeleine stuffed a few in her pockets, but she left most of hers behind for the next adventurer.

Adding a piece of string, bird’s nest, or maybe a seashell.

When we made a wrong turn on the path, I’d say, “Mads, we could enter troll territory here. Better run for your life.” She’d laugh so hard.

Because she knew, if captured, your butt would be skinned by a grindstone wheel attached to a rickety wooden three-legged stand.

The wheel waiting for you…spinning around and around, just ready for you to make a wrong turn.

We made it out. Then, we’d high-five and pat our butts.

This time was ours to share. Mads never dreamed to worry about that being taken away.

Then, I had my baby. Mads was sad and told my sister, “Auntie Ro doesn’t take me on adventures anymore.”

So, I’m tilted way back in my dentist’s chair when he tells me, “Now that you and Richard are no longer married, I can’t honor my friends and family rate for you.”

A few minutes ago, we were just laughing and catching up like we had for thirty years.

I should trust him with my teeth, but that’s where the wheel stops.

He caught me off guard. I thought he had accepted me.

Who do you become when a troll tries to throw you off the path? When who you thought you were has been taken away from you and all you did was grow?

So, how now do I pay for my mouth, if I can’t get my friends rate?  How do I get to do this?

Suddenly, I surprised myself. I wasn’t running from my life.

I breathed.

So, I asked him, “How much?”

Who do you become when you realize he doesn’t know how to give you a straight answer?


But the shock isn’t over until the Novocain wears off.

When will it wear off?

It wears off when it wears off.

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