Celia the Cry-Baby

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Celia’s mother was at her wits’ end. She had always relied on her daughter’s sanguine nature as she wrestled with her dual roles of mother and employee.  But now she went to bed and woke in the morning in a cloud of apprehension, worried that her delicately balanced life was about to tumble off a cliff.  Celia had become a cry-baby.

It had begun when Celia entered second grade.  For months now, her formerly cheerful little girl had begun each day crying into her cornflakes.

“What is the matter, Celia?” she would ask. 

“I don’t know,” wailed her daughter.

Was it her breakfast? Did she want to wear a red dress instead of blue?  Did her tummy hurt?  No, no and no.  Finally, Celia would wipe her beautiful blue eyes and drag herself off to school.

Celia’s mother met with her teacher who reported that she was doing well with her lessons, seemed well-adjusted and had plenty of friends.  This would pass, the teacher said.  Meanwhile, Celia continued to cry.

Finally, one sunny morning as she sat over her coffee watching Celia’s sporadic sobs, Mama ventured to say, “You know, Celia, things just aren’t that bad.”

Celia whimpered.

“Now, dear, you really must get a grip.  You have a nice home, a Mama who loves you, lots of friends at school.”

Celia blubbed.

“Please wipe your eyes, Celia dear, and stop that crying before you cry your eyes out.”

Celia did as she was told and left for school with a barely audible little whine.  But as she passed along her usual path, she found that she had to squint to see the traffic signals telling her when it was safe to cross.

The next morning, the scene at breakfast was the same, but Mama said nothing about Celia’s tears, handing her lunch and coat with a sigh.   When Teacher wrote the lessons on the blackboard, Celia had to move to a seat closer to the front of the room to see them.

The third morning followed the usual pattern, but Celia cried a little louder and peeked at her mother over her fists while rubbing her eyes.  Mama read the paper and drank her coffee with nary a glance in Celia’s direction. 

That day in reading group, the words in Celia’s book ran together into a blur in the center of the page while the picture of Sally chasing Spot took on the look of one of Monet’s later works.

That night, when Mama came home, she found Celia standing in the hall, one hand over her eyes and the other behind her back. 

“What do you have there, Celia?” she asked, “And please look at me when I speak to you.”

Celia lowered her hand from her face to reveal a strangely blank expression and slowly opened her other hand to show her mother a pair of sky-blue eyes lying there in a little pool of tears.

“Oh, Celia!” Mama exclaimed. “What will you do without your pretty eyes of blue?”

Celia cried her eyes out.

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