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Hidden Works
A short story published in Ploughshares, Spring, 2009

Would you like to take a tour of the park? Recently, they’ve put up the strangest statues. I don’t understand them, but they tell me you don’t have to. I’m curious to see what you think. Do watch the steps. The last one is chipped. We have to cross the lawn, but first we should stop at the guard’s cabin and procure a map. It’s probably best if you’re the one to ask. They’re sometimes reluctant to give us maps, but they would never refuse a visitor. I find that a map helps me avoid looking at the water.

Lovely. I knew they would give you one. We are here, where the X is. If we continue along this path, we will reach the first statue. Such a shame they have no flowers. Not even a dandelion. They mow the lawns so often. Autumn? Yes, but even during the summer there are none. When I describe the flowers in the Hadfields’ garden, the dahlias and the roses and the snowballs, they get impatient. They yawn without covering their mouths. They want to know about mother and father, my brothers. I try to guess what they want to hear, but somehow I’m never able to please them. Once I asked them what they wanted me to say and their response was not in the least helpful; nothing in particular, just what is on your mind. When I give them the facts, they don’t seem interested. They scratch their ear, or they turn the pages of their notebook. They never come out and say that it was my fault.

All day long I go over and over what happened, the same way I used to examine the children’s clothes, inch by inch, the collars, the cuffs, the elbows, the buttons. I tried to be the very best nanny I could. No. No. I am to blame. You’ll see. I misread the situation completely. ....more