It’s quite difficult to recall my entire life without bringing myself to talk about Mrs. May. Respectively, I begin with the time I first met her. I remember the day as a plain Tuesday; a sleepy morning, with gray air and fogged streets. I was woken up strangely early and given little information about why I was told to prepare so hastily. When I was done the morning routine, we headed out the door. My parents held my hands tightly as we walked down a long street, passing vendors, who, seemed to pour their passions into selling various items of questionable values and origins. But perhaps it was(passion)?
I soon realized that I had reached the age of which my mother could no longer lend her eyes to me for the entire day. At that time, we were just settling in to our new home, and I was not to be enrolled into school just yet; meaning that she would have to commit to work again and I would have to be attended to by someone; someone who I did not know, but would soon get to. My father, tall and skinny, but with a strong chin, demanding blue eyes, some facial hair, and a narrow chin that directed his face to always look forward, glanced down upon my curiosity and said that I would be fine.
My mother, a kind woman, with a soft and lovable face, with tender red cheeks that often matched her lipstick, too, looked down at me and let her eyes form crows feet to agree with my father. When I was happy enough to believe my parents, I found myself in front of a set of cement stairs. The first step had hand shapes that were marked into the cement at a time when it was still moist. Next to the smaller hands was the name, “Cecily,” and next to the larger hands, “Mrs. May”. And above those hand markings, a remarkably memorable sign in bright green letters that read, “Mrs. May’s Daycare”.
I stared at these mementos closely, maybe closely enough to picture their emotions on the days that they marked the ground, or put the sign up; but I was soon pulled to the top of the porch by my father. We stood, as a conjoined family, at the door and knocked politely. My father looked at his wristwatch, then to my mother and complained:
“I’m going to be late for work, hun,”
To which she replied:
“You’ll be fine.”
The door opened, and revealed a man. Certainly not Mrs. May, nor Cecily. I learned that his name was Harrison. Harrison seemed to like everyone he spoke to because when he engaged in verbal articulation, his words pronounced oddly due to his smile being stretched as far as it could go. He let us in, opening the door with his wide hairy hands.
“Go in,” he said with his lips split.
I followed close behind the trail of roses from my mother’s dress and coat. The scent soon became entangled with the sharp aroma of food, and a mix of other things that my young nose could not decode, and what I can now not remember. I was told to sit down on a couch; the couch was comfortable and a couch that I would take many naps on. Soon it became mine as every time I slept on it, more and more of my saliva would seep into the cotton.
But in the early days, this being the first day, the couch was slobber free and I sat on it as I was told to. Still, I did not see Mrs. May, and at the time did not know that she would be the one out of all adults that I would remember most vividly. Harrison, with his brave voice, his exaggerated smile, his tall figure, convinced me that he would watch over me during the hours of my mother’s employment. He shook hands with both of my parents, then watched as they walked over to me.
My father leaned over, kissed my eight year old forehead and said:
“Alright kiddo. Mrs. May is going to watch over you. I’ve known her for a long time, and I know you’ll be just fine. Now I don’t want to come later and hear that you’ve been cutting up okay?”
He aimed his head down, with his eyes gently searching mine to find out my true feelings about being here. I assured him correctly of those things with a smile of my full set of teeth and a nod. My mother was a woman of very few words; so she only kissed the spot where his lips kept warm on my head, then left. I sat there, in a greenish room, with a television centered in it, accompanied and supported by a small stool. A doorway to my right which by the sounds of pans and pots clicking, I believed to be the kitchen. And a room to my left with no sounds, to which I could not guess what it could be.
Mr. Harrison shut the door as my parents exited the tall building. He clapped his hands together, gave his patented smile that I assumed helped him throughout his life, then said:
“Well hello. I’m about to go get Mrs. May, but before I do, I want to let you know who I am. My name is Harrison, but you can call me Harry. I help take care of the children here,” he crouched down to where his forehead was leveled with mine. “What’s your name?”
“Corvo? That’s a strange name,” he caught his words rather quickly due to the sour expression on my face, “I mean it’s uh---it’s different. Yes, quite different. But listen, I won’t waste your time Corvo. I’m going to see if Mrs. May is here yet, so be right back.”
He stood up and swiftly left me in that cold room, but before, asking a woman who also sat in the room, to watch over me momentarily. The woman, who looked dully over at my isolation, must’ve been a parent of one of the children because I never did see her again after that day. Harrison seemed alright at this point, but what was I to think of this, this, Mrs. May?
At that time, I thought of her as a holy woman. A tall priestess who loved children, who wore bright clothing, who smelled of spring’s award winning gardens, who smiled with actual happiness, who would say my name softly, who would rub my hair until I was heard snoring. Mrs. May, was all but those things. She was something much more, interesting.