Lying in bed this morning, blissfully unaware of time and place.
Pit-pat pit-pat go little feet in the room next to ours.
Creeeeaak goes the hinge on the door into the hallway.
Swiiish goes the door to our bedroom.
Mommy? says a small child's voice.
I sit up. Sigh. Slide off the bed. Sneak a look at the alarm clock - 2:51AM. Oh - still early.
No Sevilla, you can't get up yet. Because it's still too early. No. It's too early.
Come on - I'll tuck you in.
Pit-pat pit-pat go little feet back through the hallway.
Shuffle shuffle shuffle go bigger feet behind her.
She climbs into bed. I kiss her twice, give her shoulder a squeeze, then turn to go.
Shuffle shuffle shuffle go big feet in the hallway... down the stairs... into the kitchen.
Crickle crickle crinch goes the cereal bag.
Splosh goes the milk.
Shuffle shuffle shuffle back up the stairs.
I sit down next to her in the bed. Here's your cereal.
Crunch crunch crunch goes the small child sitting in the bed.
Pause... then again, crunch crunch crunch.
Finally... all done.
Nods - yes.
Ok. I love you baby.
I love you Mommy.
Ok. Sleep well.
Shuffle shuffle shuffle through the hallway. Into the bedroom - glance at the clock - sigh. It's 3:14AM. I reach for the clock - click - snap the alarm off - it's set to go off at 3:15 anyway.
Good thing I caught it.
Sneak sneak sneak down the hall... down the stairs... to the kitchen. Pause... listen... no more little feet. Exhale.
Shwock as the fridge door opens.
Grab the bread. Grab the milk.
Schtick goes the toaster.
Searching for clothes.
Half dressed already from the night before, but still missing something... pants.
Fiddle fiddle fiddle in the laundry room. Pants on. Socks on.
Just need shoes.
POP! goes the toaster.
Scrap scrap scrap goes the knife... mmmm. Peanut butter.
Slap the pieces together... then - whooop - dropped it on the floor.
Pick up the sandwich.
Pause - then chomp chomp chomp on the sandwich.
Glup glup glup goes the water down the throat... almost ready... just need... front door keys.
Grab the keys.... no, don't need them all... just these... two.
Turning to go... check the clock... sigh of satisfaction.
Plenty of time.
Then.... pit-pat pit-pat pit-pat come little feet in the hallway.
Swoooosh! I slap the light switch down.
There's no-one down here...
Waiting, waiting... there's no-one down here, just go back to bed or get in bed with Daddy like any other morning when I'm already out...
Plod plod plod of little feet coming down the stairs.
Yes Sevilla, I'm here.
Chin wobbling... eyes fill with tears. Little hands reach out, hesitate slightly - then reach higher. The face crumbles.
Mommy but where are you going?
A run, Sevilla - I'm going on a run sweetie.
But will it be a quick run or a long run?
It will be a medium run.
Whimpers. But I want it to be a quick run!
I know. C'mon baby. Go back upstairs and see Daddy. You can get in bed and be cosy. I will see you soon.
But Mommy I will miss you!
I know. Firmly: Sevilla, I'm going to go now.
Gently: C'mon Sevilla.
Hug - I'll see you soon baby.
I stand up. Look down.
Child's face, chin wobbling.
I want to say goodby to you in the window.
Over to the door. Kisses on the face.
Sevilla, you say goodbye to me in the window, then I will lock the door behind me. Ok?
Then you go upstairs and cuddle in bed with Daddy.
Swoosh of the door behind me.
Scccchlick of the key - locked tight.
Over to the window. Look at the little girl behind the glass - sad face, but ok now... after all, we've done this before. She kisses the glass.
I lean forward and kiss that spot - we pull back - smile.
Wave goodbye - blow another kiss.
Jog down the steps - run out in the street - then turn. Wait.
She turns back from the window, crosses the room, makes her way back upstairs.
Except for... small rustles in the dark. Here and there, small sounds... the natural rustling of creatures, trees, the wind in the night... and I tip my head, pausing, listening... then run down the road, the warm night air blowing gently in my face.
I think of Sevilla and her sharp ears... then, abruptly, of Santa.
Poor old man.
Good luck to him trying to sneak into our house unnoticed...
He's going to need it.