Your eyes open. Darkness.
“We’re not supposed to be here.”
Drenched in sweat, blankets, panic.
Her knees dig into your ribs, her hips heavy on your stomach.
“Violet. Violet? Vi oh let?”
Her face lowers to yours.
“Vahhhhhhhhhhhhh yohhhhhhhhhhhhhh let. Violet! Violet.”
Her lips float just above your left eyeball.
“Fshyoooo, shyooo, shyooo, shyooo, shyooo…”
The blast of air from her pursed lips makes your eye flicker, water, scatter.
“Bah bah BAH. PAH. Hnnnnnnn, hnnnnnn.”
Her stomach and breasts smash against you. Her forehead drops abruptly, painfully onto your chin. Her hair fills your open, gasping mouth. Paralysis.
“One two, one two, one two three. Never better never better never better. Vie ohh let.”
Her voice is a wasp. Whirling. Buzzing. Up. Down. Breaking at the speed of its wings. Her lips, placed on your throat, inject the vibrating wasp into your airways.
“Always a good girl. Always a gooooooooood girl.”
Are you breathing? She is trembling. Next, a song, briefly. Your shared history, cherished, festering, through heaving sputters.
“On a...wagon...bound for market…na na...mournful eye...dona...”
Her joints tense. Rigid fists clutch the pillow on either side of your ears, the gauzy material yielding to her weight, depressing the space supporting your head. Sinking, sinking.
She is fully sobbing now, the muscles of her chest and back contracting and expanding as her lungs belligerently approach, then recede, approach, recede, approach, recede, approach, recede.
“I couldn’t. I. I. I couldn’t. could. couldn’t. couldn’t ever. I.”
You speak. “Shhhhhhhhh.”
You feel her stiffen, then soften, her tendons, her joints, her chaos relenting.
The lactic acid, the sweat, the drool, the tears, flush away.
She lets go. She lies on you, limply, for the moment, a seemingly immense weight despite her small frame. It doesn’t seem right that she’s smaller than you. Her throat is next to your right ear. You can hear its grooves sliding to let saliva slip through. Swallowing, swallowing, swallowing.
“...fshyoo shyoo shyoo shyoo...fshyoo shyoo shyoo...”
You take a full minute, by your count, to gently roll her back to the other side of the bed. She folds over like damp origami, her eyes open, unseeing, gazing at too many patchworks and pathways. She is elsewhere. The person you’ve always known is nowhere, or perhaps here truly for the first time.
“Go back to sleep. When we wake up, Mom will make us cheesy eggs the way you like.”