Every Sunday afternoon at five o’clock, Martin’s wife Lee says, “You have to pack before Bug goes to bed.”
This Sunday was no different. Elizabeth, his petite two-year-old ran up to him and asked, “tea, Daddy?” So they sat at her plastic, red and white table and chairs. She poured the invisible drink into light pink, heart- shaped cups. “Cheers,” she said, clinking her cup with his.
“Salute, Bug,” he said.
After a fast few minutes, she was up and ready for something else. “Dance crazy,” she said. Martin blared Eric Clapton’s They’re Red Hot and Elizabeth jumped around the living room and the kitchen. She clapped her hands and crouched down, pouncing up like a spring. She stood on his feet, grabbed his hands, and they spun around. He only heard her giggles.
“Puzzles!” said Elizabeth. She pulled out a stack of puzzles. Hundreds of pieces fell to the floor. They snapped in half the pieces of an ABC’s puzzle and then she was off – brushing her doll’s hair, feeding the dog, and making pie in her plastic kitchen set. Martin followed her every move through their home.
Soon, it was six o’clock. “Almost bedtime,” said Lee. “Want to help me pick out shirts?” he asked Elizabeth.
She ran to his open closet and looked intently at the selection of oxfords, plaids, and polos – all basic shades of blue and gray, simple and fitting his personality – looking for her favorites. Then with both hands she grabbed the shoulders of two tops and yanked them off their hangers. “These ones.”
Martin normally packed the shirts she picked. It helped during the week. While dressing in front of the long hotel closet mirror, he’d laugh remembering her method.
It was seven o’clock. His steel blue duffle bag sat, packed, by the front door.
At eight o’clock, after reading her favorite books, they cuddled on the soft, gray chair in her dark bedroom and sang Twinkle, Twinkle while her nightlight slung pale blue stars across the ceiling and down the walls. When her eyes drooped, he laid her in the crib. He kissed his hand then touched it to the top of her head, her big curls wrapping around his fingertips. “See you Friday morning, Bug. I love you.”
“Love you, too, Dad,” she said.
Martin sighed as he closed her bedroom door. The duffle bag sat, packed by the front door, ignored for a few more hours.
published 27 June 2015