“Na, I want some juice.”
The feathery voice sounds distant, yet near. I bury myself deeper into the bundle of pillows surrounding me. I don’t want to open my eyes. Not yet, not yet.
“Naaa, I want some juice.”
There it is again. I’m surfacing. Against my will, the tide of awareness returns. I remember now, the padding of little footsteps inching their way into my room. A little body climbing into my bed. Half-asleep, I’d set the TV on cartoons and passed out again.
Now came the reckoning.
“You want juice?” I mumble.
“You want a banana?”
“Yes. I want banana juice.”
Okay, that wakes me up. Banana juice? I open my eyes and look at her. She gives me that expectant trusting smile that drills right through my heart and into my soul.
I glance at the clock; it’s barely eight! Na is definitely not a morning person.
We make our way into the kitchen, she bouncing down the hallway, me shuffling behind. At the table, she hops into her favorite chair, the one that affords a view of the living room TV.
After breakfast, I try to work. My brain is running on four cylinders, and I need eight. Eight hours of sleep, that is. I’m missing a couple, but I try to concentrate through the fog. I stick to safe activities, like writing, reading and studying. No sharp objects for me today.
She keeps herself busy playing with her toys and watching a movie, all the while popping into my office at regular intervals. She loves to mimic what I do and asks for pen and paper. I help her write her name. A-L-Y-S-S-A. Her grin blinds me.
Around lunchtime, I give up trying to work. I go to the living room to join her and decide to stick to my crochet project for the rest of the day. Can’t hurt myself with a crochet hook.
But, I can’t keep my eyes open any longer. I lie down on the loveseat and call her over.
“Come, it’s naptime.”
“Naptime for you,” she says, with that smile.
Oh, yes, naptime for me.
“I want SpongeBob, Na.”
I check the Guide; it’s on. I’ll just lie here and OD on SpongeBob and Patrick.
Before I know it, I’m carried away, with her little body snuggled up against me. Precious sleep.
But all too soon she’s up again.
“I want to go to school, Na.”
“You want to play with your friends?” It must suck being stuck in the house with old Na.
“Yes,” she says, nodding.
I watch her as she paces back and forth on the couch gazing out the bay window.
“I want my mommy,” she says.
“Your mommy’s at work.”
“She’s at work at school?”
“Yes,” I say, surprised she understands her mommy works at a daycare center. Usually they go together, but she’s to spend two days with me. Her mommy works a second job.
I busy myself preparing dinner while she pushes her doll in its stroller around the kitchen. This morning, orange juice made her forget about banana juice and I pour some OJ into her Sippy cup.
Before we can sit down to eat, my daughter calls. “I’m on my way to pick her up.”
“Yes, my work hours changed.”
“OK,” I say, looking out the window. Outside the sun still shines, but inside my world is dim. My light is leaving a day early.
The grin that blinds.