After bathing him and helping rub his toothbrush over soft gums and small teeth, we climb into bed. Books I don't read aloud say he should be sleeping in his own bed by now. If I'm not ready to be alone, following Carol’s car accident, how can I ask that of a four-year-old?
Tonight he picks out Carl is King, a recent purchase. Last night, I stuttered on the penultimate line of the last page. I replaced "magnificent" with "wonderful". Though he can't read, he gave me a look.
Now, I squeeze his shoulder. "So you had fun at Ms. Jennifer's today?" He tells me about a boy running into the couch, the baby that always cries, how they watched "Bob the Builder." He yawns. I can't help but hope that he falls asleep before I reach the final page.
A few minutes later, he’s snoring on my chest. I stop reading, listening to him breathe. When I was his age, I tried to imagine what I’d be like as an adult. I could never picture it. I pull the covers over his chest and try to fall asleep.
David Erlewine's stories have appeared, or soon will, in dozens of venues, including Word Riot, Ghoti, Pedestal, Pank, Keyhole, elimae, and SmokeLong Quarterly.