Monday, January 11, 2010

1 a.m.

The only sounds are divided equally on both sides of my head: On the right the clock is ticking and Dad's snores rise through the floorboards. On the left, the abandoned laptop hums its incessant reminder of waiting homework and the baby's soft breath tickles my earlobe.

Fifteen minutes earlier, her indignant footsteps patter-thumped down the hallway, her cries for me Doppler-trailing right after.

After they're asleep is when I can get to work for real, buckle down on this education I'm starting to wonder if I'm too old to learn. But this little girl has figured out my secret and she's not about to let me get away with it.

So her little head tucks under and along my jawbone, in the cradle of my neck; consumable-smelling soft hair cushions my cheek. Her little heart beats on mine and I am amazed again to remember when her entire body fit so compactly under my chin. Now her feet dangle, dangle and her entire head claims almost as much space as her body once did.

Sweet little skin, all sleepy-warm smelling. Striped jammies course by under my stroking hands.

Breathe, breathe little breaths.

Another hour or two of homework awaits. But maybe ... just one little break.

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