Thursday, February 9

Ellen Santa-Rafael Domingo has eleven arms, one for each of her children.

In her first arm, Leena's arm, she carries Lemon Pie.

"Momma, gimmie my Lemon Pie," says Leena all the damn time.

In her second arm, Charlie's arm, she carries a fistfull of Bendy Straws.

"Momma, gimmie one of them Bendy Straws." Charlie loves his Bendy Straws.

In her third arm, Linday's arm, she carries a Birth Certificate.

"Hey Momma. When was I born?" asks Linday. "In which Hospital and what's your Maiden Name?"

EllenSanta-Rafael Domingo never answers Linday becuase she's too busy holdingthe Two Angry Tiny Dogs in her fourth arm, Deana-Smitty's arm.

"Get him, you Tiny Dog!" scrieches Deana-Smitty. "You fight that Angry Tiny Dog, you Angry Tiny Dog!"

In her fifth arm, Sams' arm, she carries a New Set of Luggage.

"Momma?" asks Sam. "This Set of Lggage isn't so New anymore, is it?"

"I can't afford New Luggage every time you ask me that," replies Ellen Santa-Rafael Domingo. "Now hand me the Bug Repellent."

In her sixth arm, Nancy's arm, she carries Bug Repellent.

"Momma! They're on me! They're on all over me!" Nancy scratches furiously at her face skin.

Her seventh arm has been missing ever since Lenny-David-Spencer ran off for Marriage.

"Hand me that Power Bill, Wife," Lenny-David-Spencer says from his new recliner."I like to pay the Power Bill at least two weeks before it's due."

In her eighth arm, Mr. Bum Homeless Man From Street's arm, she carries a pack of Stale Cigarettes.

"Ah... thanks, Momma. I owe you one."

Her ninth arm and her tenth arm stroke each other nervously, wringing each other's hands and picking at fingernails.

Little Sarah and Little Jill have yet to recover from the Science Fair accident.

Her eleventh arm is the small nub of protruding bone and flesh you can just start to see under her left shoulderblade. It is only a few weeks old and has many months left to go.

It's a little tender now, and whenever she has a spare moment, Ellen Santa-Rafael Domingo pokes at the little pre-arm. This poking would turn into a habbit if she had more time, but she doesn't.

"Looks like rain, Momma," says Mr. Bum Homeless Man From Streets. He takes a drag from his Cigarette.

"It rains sometimes," says Ellen Santa-Rafael Domingo. "But that's what makes the flowers grow."

As if in response, Little Jill's left arm jerks a lttle. "Hey! Did you see that?"points Leena, her mouth full of delicious Pie. Everyone crowds around to see. Ellen Santa-Rafael Domingo and Leena and Charlie and Linday and Deana-Smitty and Sam and Nancy and Mr. Bum Homeless Man From Streets and Little Sarah who lies quietly next to Little Jill and the not-quite-an-arm-yet all wait for another small sign of life from the poor girl who so rarely proves that she's still alive.

But she doesn't do it again.

It begins to rain. Not one arm among the lot holds an umbrella.