Editor’s Note: The following is very loosely based on autobiographical events. It’s what happens when you wake up and can’t go back to sleep. It’s a writer’s curse, I suppose. I guess I can thank My Muse. And just so we’re clear, this is fiction inspired by actual events, not some coded message about my health.
She awoke from the dream with a start. One breath before, The Mother had been standing at the edge of the garden, its ivy-covered stone walls curving inward on either side like cupped hands. In the dream, she and Eldest Daughter had been in deep conversation at the garden’s entrance (or its exit, depending on your perspective) when Littlest Daughter, who was standing beside her bed, crying, awakened her.
The Parents’ Bed was reserved primarily for The Parents; however, whenever one of The Children had had an unfortunate dream or was otherwise unsettled, The Parents permitted whomever arrived first to settle into the space between them. The Mother glanced behind her to find that space now occupied by The Son, and recalled that earlier in the evening he had crawled up and over her, so lightly that she had barely even noticed. Continue reading
I’ve just come back from tucking my son, six, into bed. We snuggled up under his brown comforter, in his baseball-themed bedroom, and read stories about soup-making animals and art-making kids. When story time came to a close, I wrapped my arms around his small frame from behind and planted a kiss upon his cheek. Pulling him closer to me, I whispered in his ear, “You are my sweet, sweet, boy. I just love you so much.” “I love you too, Mama,” he replied. A few minutes passed and we just held onto each other there in silence. My busy boy—my soccer playing, basketball dribbling, lego-building boy, who always seems to be on the go—was here in my arms, quiet, letting me love on him. I pulled him closer, breathing him in. It was delicious.
Then out of nowhere he begins sobbing. My first thought was that something had happened at school earlier that day and he was reliving it now, in the silence, and struggling with whether and how to tell me what had had happened. He had more than once been on the receiving end of a certain bully’s ire last year, so, it was plausible.
“What’s wrong, Bud?,” I ask, “Did something happen today at school?” His small frame shakes as he cries harder.
“Something just popped into my head that you died.” Continue reading