Thirty-Five Is Not Enough

Contributor: Brandon Barrows

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“Thirty-five is not enough!” Kayla scrunched up her face and pouted, transforming from a pretty, newly-eighteen, young woman into a little girl once more.
Eve sighed, closed her eyes and pressed her hand to her forehead all at once. She is your daughter. She is still a child. You love her dearly. It had become a mantra of sorts over the years.
“Kayla, don’t look a gift horse in the mouth.”
“A what?”
Picking up her needlepoint and settling into the nearest window seat, Eve sighed again, almost silently. “Never mind. It’s just an expression.”
“Look at it this way, darling: thirty-five is more than you had this morning, isn’t it?”
“Yes, but-“
“How many did you have when you woke up today?”
“None, but-“
Eve smiled on the inside. Maybe it was petty, but she loved shattering the girl’s tantrum logic. “And why, exactly, is thirty-five not enough to your mind?”
“Well,” Kayla began, looking at her feet and trying to hide the oncoming blush rising to her cheeks. “All my friends will make fun of me,” she finished quietly.
The older woman nearly laughed, but caught herself before she could ruin whatever progress she’d made with her daughter. “That’s ridiculous. Why would anyone make fun of you?”
Kayla shuffled her feet, still refusing to look at her mother, but not retreating, either. This “issue” apparently did mean something to her. “It’s, you know, just not very many. Abby already has forty-nine and Raina’s up to sixty-one since her last birthday.”
Putting aside her project, Eve pursed her lips and waved a hand, gesturing for the girl to join her at the window seat. Kayla approached, but it took a hand on her shoulder to guide her down and take a reluctant seat.
Eve raised her daughter’s gaze with a gentle hand beneath her chin and said “Kayla, listen to me. Both of those girls have a head start on you by at least a year or two. Your grandfather was very generous to give you what he did. He has many, many children and grandchildren and he didn’t have to give you anything. It was a lovely birthday gift.”
The glow in Kayla’s cheeks reddened. “I know,” she said softly.
Eve smiled encouragingly. “You know, nobody gave your grandfather anything and see what he ended up with? He worked and planned and fought hard for every single thing that he has.”
“But you know what else? You’re starting way ahead of where he, or your dad or I was at your age.”
Brightening somewhat, the red of her cheeks subsiding just a bit, Kayla allowed the barest hint of a smile to tug at the corner of her mouth. “That’s true…”
“So what do you say we look at this as sort of a starter kit, a chance to show everyone what you can do given a little bit to work with?”
The dam broke and Kayla’s lips split into a grin that could light up a room if she so chose. “Okay. Yeah, you’re right.”
Kayla threw her arms around her mother, pressing a cheek to her shoulder as they embraced. “Thanks, mom. You always know how to set me straight.”
Eve returned the hug, then drew back and held her daughter at arms-length so Kayla could see she was sharing her smile. “That’s what I’m here for, sweetie.”
“Thirty-five’s not so bad at all. I bet with some planning and a little luck, I could get all the way up to fifty in a year or two.”
Retrieving the needlepoint pattern from where she’d left it, Eve nodded and said “I bet you could at that.”
Kayla grinned even wider. “Thirty-five planets of my own. Not a bad way to start an empire…”

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Brandon Barrows writes comic books prodigiously and is dipping his toe into the waters of prose fiction. His award-nominated detective series JACK HAMMER is published by Action Lab Comics, and his graphic novel VOYAGA was recently published by AAM/Markosia.
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