“The clock says four and five and seven,” Emma can be heard saying. There’s a rustling sound and then an audible sigh as she settles herself on the floor six inches away from the “clock,” which is actually our DVD player. I can just make out the shape of her back. She’s watching the clock. Literally. I roll over onto our cat Merlin, who has taken to curling himself up into a tight ball against my upper body. The heat he emits causes me to wake in a sweat several times throughout the night. I’ve grown used to this and am grateful in the knowledge that when menopause hits I will be that much better prepared. Merlin uncurls himself without resentment and arches his back. All witchy and halloween-like, he gives me a baleful stare with his yellow/green eyes. Emma stays put. ”Four and five and nine,” she mutters.
The morning light has yet to reach our northern facing windows. Richard reaches for his cell phone. We are inundated with technological gadgets of one kind or another. iPads, iPhones, everyone has at least one computer, Richard and I each have three. Despite the fact we do not watch television, there are always several screens of some kind on at any given hour of the day or night. ”What are you doing?” I whisper to Richard. As if Emma cannot hear me. As if she will not take this as permission to get into our bed with us.
“Checking the weather,” comes his reply.
“Eighties. It’s going to be in the eighties today,” I tell him. I know this because I’ve already checked the weather and my email and am almost through writing a daily “to do” list having been up since three and four and two, as Emma would say.
Emma stands up and bounds over to my side of the bed, beaming. ”Hi Mommy!” she says in a loud cheery voice. I am reminded of that commercial where a schlubby looking guy gets up and says in a grumbly voice, “It’s time to make the doughnuts.” Was that actually an advertisement for doughnuts? I can no longer remember.
“I’m getting up,” Richard announces.
Richard’s first novel is being published in the next 48 hours. There’s been a whirlwind of activity, he received a five star review from a major book reviewer on Tuesday, there’s still a great deal to finalize before we actually have a physical book, his novel, in our hands. It’s all very exciting and while all of this is going on there are the very real daily things that still need to get done.
“Gotta get back to work,” Richard says as he wanders into the bathroom, turns on the sink faucet and then begins talking to me again. I cannot understand a thing he’s saying. The faucet’s running, he’s at least 20 feet away with his back to me. Seriously? I so cannot hear you. Emma is grinning at me like the Cheshire cat and now leaps into bed next to me, while deftly pushing Merlin aside. This is all done with a certain matter-of-fact-sorry-kitty-don’t-take-it-personally sort of way.
I smile at Emma, reach down to stroke Merlin, lest his feelings are hurt. ”What?” I yell to Richard.
“Never mind. I’ll tell you when I’m out of the shower,” Richard shouts back.
It’s not even five and one and five. Or for those of you unfamiliar with Emma’s unique way of telling time, it’s not even five fifteen. I check Emma’s arm and hand to see if the angry red bumps, the tell tale marks left from last night’s meltdown when she bit herself over and over again, have calmed down. They have. In another day they will turn bluish-purple and by the weekend will have acquired a yellowy brown cast. She pulls her arm away and stares at me. ”Emma’s sad. Emma want to go to the sprinklers. I know. I know baby. But listen, you cannot bite. You cannot go to the sprinklers. Maybe tomorrow,” she says, nodding her head and frowning.
I talk to her about how she can go to the sprinklers after school today. I tell her we are going to Nic’s school concert to hear Nic play his saxophone this evening. She smiles. She begins to hum the song Nic composed last year and played at a piano recital. Her memory continues to awe. She hums the exact piece note for note in its entirety. When she gets to the end, she looks at the clock, “It’s five and three and one. Do you want to make cereal and toast?” She bounces off the bed and races into the kitchen without waiting for my reply.
Last night Emma and I went up to the roof before bedtime. If you look just to the left of Emma’s face, you’ll see the Freedom Tower, more than halfway finished.
My latest piece My Fear Toolkit published in the Huffington Post