I padded down the carpeted steps, pausing on the landing to absorb the lavender light pouring through the floor-to-ceiling window. Turning to descend the last several steps, my grandfather’s milky eyes supervised the endeavor as he peered out from the family portrait at the bottom of the stairs. My attention moved to the small girl pouting on his lap, then to the eight other children surrounding him. Nope. This boy is pure Rocco.
Distracted, I nearly lost my balance as my socks hit the hardwood floor. I expected to find the kitchen empty. Instead, I found Dad at the kitchen table, gazing across the water with his morning pages open before him. He turned when a floorboard creaked beneath our weight.
“You’re just in time, Paul!” he exclaimed in a voice far too bright for morning. “It’s almost the best part!”
Paul smiled and wobbled before ducking his head into my armpit with mock shyness. Dad closed his notebook, slid back from the table, and pulled the weight from my arms before the baby stopped giggling.
“Well, technically you missed the ‘best’ part. I personally think the purple is the best part and that already happened. But you’re in time for the most important part. The sun is almost here!” He slung Paul over his shoulder like a bag of oranges and moved towards the expanse of windows that flanked the living room.
“He just ate, Dad, so maybe don’t turn him completely upside down.” He nodded absentmindedly as he moved the child to his chest while trying to make Paul focus across the water rather than at his bushy beard. “I’m going to go grab the laundry. I’m pretty sure we’re on the very last diaper.”
“You must think of your diaper as Truth, Paul,” he said in acknowledgement. “You must ration it.”
I smirked to myself as I passed the sculpture that had temporarily taken up residence in the foyer. The golden light reflected off her shiny flanks, bestowing her cold flesh with the warm flush of blood.
Rather than turn left to head to the basement, I continued on to my parents’ bedroom. I laughed aloud at the down throw atop the knit throw atop the quilt atop the blanket atop the sheets atop the tight ball that was my mother. The mound of fabrics moved at the sound of my snort.
I swung my right leg up onto the high mattress and pulled the rest of my body up behind Mom, resting my knees behind hers and curling around her back. “You could turn the heat up, you know. I’m fairly certain you could afford it.”
A row of fingertips, tight like the kernels of a corn cob, lowered the fabric to expose two bleary, blue eyes and a mop of thick hair. “You again,” she muttered with a mock look of disapproval before turning back to face the windows. “Is your dad out taking pictures again? I swear we have more pictures of sunrises than we do of my grandson…and that’s saying something.”
Dad’s voice grew in volume as he, too, worked his way towards the bedroom. In seconds, he and Paul burst into the room. Dad’s constant narration bounced of the windows. “Can you see that coot over there, Paul? And the loons? I like coots more. They’re more fun to watch. Come this summer, we’d already be out in the rowboat by this hour. Or would you rather kayak?”
He paused to slide a chair away from the wall of windows, moving ever closer to the glass. Paul’s head wobbled as Dad lifted him onto his shoulders. “I hope you don’t outgrow your life jacket by the 4th of July.” He turned his eyes back to the horizon. “Oh look, Paul,” he pointed at the dip in the mountains where the damn hid. “Here she comes…”