I read “Goodnight Moon” with my son and drag it out so I can smell his clean hair for one second longer. He slides off my lap, slowly padding across the room to crawl into his little bed. Tonight he wants to pull the covers up by himself, “thank you very much,” and isn’t interested in a goodnight kiss. I imagine his sullen baby face on the body of a teenager, and wait until I am out of earshot to bawl like the baby that he no longer is.
He traded Ring Around the Rosie for black rings around both eyes. His mother fretted and fussed, but he had to put food on the table somehow.
He smiled as the hair fell down around his bony ankles, not wanting to incite panic in us all. He was always thoughtful like that.
I wish I wasn’t hyper-sensitive from years of walking on eggshells, wish I hadn’t noticed that his eyes didn’t wrinkle the way they normally do, wish I hadn’t run away to avoid watching him die.
I forgot to replace the battery in my alarm clock last night. Now here I stand at the bus stop in the middle of a blizzard, my wet hair collecting the errant flakes as they fall. Now when the police tell my mother that I died of pneumonia, she will die of embarrassment as she learns that someone saw me without every strand of hair perfectly in place. Worse still, she will see the layers of my unmade bed peeled open like the onions she used in every dish I ever ate as a child.