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Rosie the Riveter Mug
Rosie the Riveter Mug
Rosie the Riveter Mug
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Rosie the Riveter Mug

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A Fleeting Rainbow 

“We can do it?”

“Yes we can, honey,” Sally sings, each word matched with a pull of the trigger on a spray bottle of Glass Plus. The sun catches every misty spritz and paints a fleeting rainbow in the air. “Do you know who that is, Melinda?”

“Uummm… the we can do it lady?”

Sally smiles but doesn’t laugh. If she laughs she’ll need to breathe, and she doesn’t want to breathe in the fumes from the Glass Plus. When the table is clean and the paper towel’s thrown into the chiminea, Sally sits next to Melinda on the lounge chair and picks her up, sits her in her lap. She then takes the coffee mug and holds it so Melinda can hold it too.

“This lady’s name is Rosie the Riveter, Melly. Have you learned about the world wars in school yet?”

The patio catches Melinda’s bottom jaw. “The whole world was at war??”

Another smile. “Yes it was, more than once. But don’t worry about that right now, you’re too young for such nonsense.”

“Wars are nonsense, Mommy?”

“They sure are. When man has a big stick he will undoubtedly swing it, especially when he thinks he has something to defend. Always be weary around man, Melly.”

“But Daddy’s a man, Mommy! And so is uncle Dally!”

Sally’s glad she’s having so many laughs this morning. She won’t be laughing later on, but right now isn’t later on. Right now she’ll enjoy the company of her daughter.

“I don’t mean men, honey. I mean man, like human. That’s what we are, it’s just in our nature to fight change. We always hold on as long as we can, no matter how flimsy the branch is, no matter how much it cracks. We hang on ‘til the end and then we drop, and when we drop? Honeybear, we drop.”

“We drop?”

“Boy do we ever…” Sally sighs. She almost forgets how this conversation started. Almost forgets; she doesn’t really forget. If she really forgot… well, anyway. “Do you know where I got this Rosie mug?”

The phone rings, startling the girls. “Hop up baby, I gotta go get that.”

“But what about the Rosie mug, Mommy?”

“Melly, I will tell you all about it when I come back out,” Sally says as she lifts her small monkey off her lap. “I’ve been expecting this call all day, I really gotta get it. Just stay out here, okay? Smell the flowers or somethin’.”

Melinda shrugs, then walks over to the purple irises and starts sniffing. She turns back but her Mommy is already inside, and she didn’t even leave the door cracked! It must be a pretty important phone call. At least the flowers smell nice today.



“Do you remember that watch we got her last week?”

“Yeah, of course. I’m the one who bought it, dude.”

“Right… sorry. Um, but Sal’, she thinks we gave it to her this morning.”

A few seconds of heavy hesitation. “So what? It was only last week, that’s not that bad. We might as well have given it to her this morning.”

“Sally… all right, fine. But do you remember that blue jay thing?”

“The blue jay… what?”

“That thing that hangs on the wall. I think Melinda gave it to her for Christmas?”

“Yeah, okay, yeah I know what you mean. What about it?”

“She thinks we gave that to her this morning as well…”

Sally doesn’t say a word.

“Look, apparently she thinks it’s a real bird, too, because she’s been petting it. The top of its head is white, Sally. It used to be black, now it’s white. If she keeps this shit up she’s going to wear a hole into the damned thing, then she’ll cut herself. We can’t have our see-nie–”

“Stop!!” Sally shouts. Dally hears a soft slap, like Sally’s hand flew up to her mouth. Then he hears a breath. Then, “I’m sorry, Dallas, I… I just…”

“Look, I get it. I was the same way when Dad started to go, but um… criminy Sally, she thinks Dad’s still alive. She thinks he’s going to come home at the next hour, and then when the next hour comes? She thinks he’ll be back the next hour. It’s bad, we can’t… she can’t live there by herself, Sally.”

“Do you think I don’t know that? We tried putting her into a home when Dad died, she wouldn’t let us! And when I went there alone she started hitting me! We can’t–”

“We can’t let her stay there by herself, Sally. Listen…” He sighs. “I think that, where she’s at now, if we brought her to a home, she’d forget the car ride by the time she sat on her new bed. It’s… we…”

“We… we need to do what we need to do,” Sally decides. She’s looking out the slider now, at that old Rosie the Riveter coffee mug sitting on the lounge chair on the patio. How did Melinda even find that thing? “You’re right, we have to. We can do it… it won’t be easy, but we can do it.”

“Yeah… all right, we’re on the same page then. I’ll talk to you more about it when I see you tonight, okay?”

“Yeah. I love you, Dal’.”

“Love you too, Sal’. See you soon.”



Melinda removes her entire nose from the violet petals of the iris when she hears the slider open. “Is everything okay, Mommy?”

Melinda’s Mommy smiles at her, but Melinda can tell she’s sad. She goes over and hugs her Mommy, and her Mommy picks her up and sits them on the lounge chair. “Everything’s great honey, life is just… life can be heavy sometimes.”


“Yeah, heavy… sometimes you have to be big and strong, doll.” Sally picks up the coffee mug and puts it in Melinda’s hands. “Sometimes you gotta flex your muscles just like Rosie the Riveter and remind yourself: We can do it.

We can do it” Melinda parrots. “Where’d you get the Rosie mug, Mommy?”

“Your grandma gave it to me when I married your Daddy. I don’t think I ever even drank out of it, I just like to look at it sometimes. It makes me feel strong.”

Melinda likes that. Rosie makes her feel strong, too.