Pig Out

by Heather Villa

A glazed pig lived on a bookless bookshelf. The first time Paula noticed the figurine she wrapped her three-year-old fingers around its body and did her best to hug something that only offered a cool touch. The pig slipped from her grip and landed on carpet and didn't break. However, upon close inspection, one could spot a hairline fracture. After the incident, the pig's owner secured the trinket inside a curio cabinet.

Glass separated Paula and the pig. The young girl stood in front of the cabinet and watched the pig while the other children played with blocks and their mothers yakked about recipes.

As soon as Paula's mother excused herself from the chitchat, the owner of the pig spoke to the other mothers in a hushed, hissed tone. "Before Paula comes over to play I put away everything that's breakable," she said. "She cracked my Lenox piglet, you know."

The women showed empathy with remarks such as: My goodness; I'm sorry; I do the same thing.

Meanwhile, Paula remained fixated on the pig. Her mother returned to a fabricated conversation about strawberry shortcake and homemade whipping cream.

All mothers took turns hosting the weekly mother-child playdates. Paula's mother was a marvelous hostess, not because she served egg salad sandwiches shaped like hearts, but because she never encouraged gossip whenever another mother left the room.

The day arrived when the owner of the pig hosted another gathering. The pig owner's daughter, Isabelle, was the same age as Paula.

Isabelle looked up at Paula's mother and said, "Before you come over Mommy puts away fancy things. Paula breaks things."

That wasn't the first time Paula's mother heard or overheard something along those lines. As usual she brushed aside the remark. The get-together seemed like all the others. The women first talked about different ways to marinate chicken and then someone mentioned Swiss chocolate was the latest color trend in exterior house paint probably because they lounged on the patio, not to waste a lovely day, surrounded by the neighboring homes all painted the same brown tone.

When Paula's mother excused herself once again, the other mothers didn't refrain from insults. While inside the pig owner's house she set a crystal etched vase, a statue of a little fawn, a long-stemmed candle holder, and the daintiest teacup she could find in the middle of the coffee table.

Everyone decided to return indoors because the sun threatened to scorch their skin.

Not one of the pig owner's newly displayed treasures remained untouched by curious youngsters. The fawn subjected to tug-of-war proved to be well-liked and lost a leg.

But Paula didn't touch anything. She stood in front of the curio cabinet for the last time, with sticky fingers pressed against the glass and stared at the pig.

BIO: Heather Villa is a former cartographer who told stories with maps before she became a freelance writer. Her byline has appeared in The Writer, among others. She couldn’t have completed her first middle grade novel without inspiration from her daughter and the neighborhood swarm of kids. She loves the intersection between nonfiction and fiction. For more information visit HeatherVillaWrites.com or say hello on Twitter @HeatherVilla1.