Sunday morning. We're at a yard sale in front of our friends' house. It is a smorgasbord of toys, but four-year-old Alice doesn't seem to notice. I pick her up.

"How are you feeling?"

"Not good."

She pushes her face into my neck. She seems so small.


Early afternoon. She seems even smaller as she curls up on the couch.

"Alice, are you falling asleep?"

No answer. I rub her back.

"Oh, sweetie."

She sits bolt upright, her eyes wild.



Moments later.

"That's better. That'll make you feel a bit better."


Early evening. She's asleep on the couch again. It's late enough that we can safely move her to her bed without ruining her night's sleep.

I pick up her little body and carry her up the stairs. She is a limp doll, but her arms manage to find their way around my neck.

I place her in her bed and pull her blanket over her shoulder.

"Sleep well, little---"

Her eyes are wide open.

"Close those eyes, sweetie."

Two giant unblinking eyes stare at me. Everything else about her -- the slack jaw, the way she has melted into her pillow -- tells me she is asleep.

I snicker. None of our kids have ever slept with their eyes open before.

Her eyes dart around the room. They bounce from the lamp to the clock to the ceiling.


Her eyes lock onto mine. Silent. Assessing.

Okay. This is a little creepy.

"Sweetie. Close those beautiful eyes."

She doesn't.

What if her subconscious self has taken over? What if it has been fighting for years to grasp a bit of control from her conscious self? What if here, in this pink bedroom, her subconscious has finally commandeered a tiny fragment of this little girl's body?

It can see.

I shiver.

"If you start speaking with a man's voice, I'm going to run out screaming."



"I think I'm going to sleep with Alice tonight," says Erin.

"No, no," I argue. "You don't need that. Let me sleep with her."

"No, really. I'd like to take care of her tonight. I really want to do this."


Middle of the night.

I can fly.

I have always known how to do this. It is as easy as breathing. Why haven't I done this before?

I thrust my arms to my sides as I soar over fields of rippling green grass. Hey, that's the farm where I grew up!

Cool air whooshes past my face. I am free!


Down the hall in Alice's bedroom, at the exact moment I am dreaming of flying, Erin is being sprayed with vomit.


Monday morning.

"You look brighter! How are you feeling today?"

"Pretty good!"

"Let's take that temperature."

102.9 degrees.


Tuesday morning.

"You look brighter! How are you feeling today?"


She runs a full lap of the first floor of our house.

"I am super fast!"


Same morning. Seven-year-old Jane is still in bed.

"How are you this morning?"


She rolls over. She sighs.

"Maybe too good."

No comments: