–Mortimer. Should I read to you Mortimer? In the plane from the seat behind me, the woman asks her daughter.
Immediately, as if it were yesterday, I hear Nicholas’ delighted, little boy voice, and I’m taken back. His dark hair, still damp from the nightly bath to wash the busy, dirty-child grime from his body, smelling sweet in my nostrils. The lamp casting a soft light over the two of us under a blanket, his head bent over the task of turning the pages of the book.
It was a story he requested at long ago bedtimes, learning to recite it without yet knowing the shapes and sounds of letters.
Clang, clang, rattle, bing, bang, gonna make my noise all day. The verse suited him.
The smile drops from my face, my emotions snap a 180 turn.
I’m dismayed. I don’t want the pain but I feel my chest tighten, my throat constrict; I push my face into the window, my body trying to move far away from the voice behind me.
–Oh, this one instead? OK, give it to me please.
I’m released. I exhale a held breath and relax as if my car on an icy road was in a skid, but now the tires have suddenly found bare pavement and I’m safely stopping and pulling over, my heart beat visible in my temples.
December 12, 2011