Because she is so little and there is so little to do, Bittie Betina spends some mornings dropping bits of colored thread through the cracks in the floor. One day the Father takes all the Mothers and all the children out to the Great Salt Lake. Bittie Betina tears off her pinafore and runs straight to the water. Mothers shriek. Children cry. The Father drags her back and beats on her until she is sore and dry and flat as a slab. Two salt crystals sparkle on the tip of her finger. She puts one on her tongue. The other she rubs on the inside of her bloody cheek. One baby. One mother. Mothers and Mothers and too many Mothers. Nine Mothers and one Father. One husband. Nine wives. Thirty children or more.
One night Bittie Betina looks down the long row of side by side planks. Mashed potatoes and mashed potatoes a bowl of mashed potatoes for every Mother. Nine bowls of mashed potatoes. She yells I hate every god she stutters I hate every godblessed one of you. And the Father drags her down onto the floor and beats her until she is sore and stiff and flat as a plank.
She is supposed to love them all. But she loves only the Mother who flickers pink and gold. That one flies away in colors uncertain. They always bring her back. When Bittie Betina learns to fly, she’ll soar in red thunderstorms swoop in blue light. She’ll glide in on yellow so bright it’ll put their eyes out. They’ll drown in her green. For now she is flat and flat and flat as the earth. She slips between the floorboards down among the bugs and the bits of thread and waits for the colors to come.