In the morning, it’s silent. Kiki sleeps. Case listens to Joe Hisaishi’s “One Summer’s Day,” played by Hisaishi himself on piano, looping over and over again.
He swallows happiness with his vegan BLT. Tomatoes are the happiest, and crisp lettuce is a close second.
When Ira grabs a plate of leftover grilled fruit for breakfast, her #samefood, Case gives up the best seat in the house, so she can have it.
“It’s nice how the sun comes in, right?” he says. “This is the best window in the house.”
Kiki’s breaths come soft and slow, like a kitten’s. Something about having a small, warm, sleeping body next to us brings a comfort that can’t be found anywhere else.
Ira dimly remembers being that size, sleeping on her dad’s chest, rising and falling with each of his breaths. When I was Kiki’s size, my dad used to tuck me in by “squeezing me like toothpaste.” I’d crawl down to the foot of the bed, under the covers, and he’d push me up by the toes, until my head reached the pillow. I slept so soundly, under heavy blankets, with the soft moon shining in my own window over my little bed.
“Is there a baby bird in here?” Ira asks, as Kiki stirs.
“It’s Kiki!” Kiana laughs.
“Where Cay?” Kiana asks.
“Case, this little bird wants you!” Ira calls.
“Not a bird,” she says.
“Would you like a story, Kiana?” Case asks.
It’s the best thing.
About halfway through the story, the odors in the house are not the best thing.
“Let’s finish the story later,” Case says, “and get you cleaned up first.”
“No!” Kiki yells. “No clean!”
“Fu-” yells Case, “–udge!” Ugh, it’s their first morning, and he’s messed up already. What to do? Yes, stories need to be finished, and it sucks to have them interrupted midway, but also, diapers need to be changed, and some odors just can’t be allowed to linger! And what do you do when everything is important and needs doing now? Case should have realized he was not up for this. What was he thinking?
He remembered when he was a kid, even a little one, how annoying it was to be interrupted when he was focusing on something he enjoyed. He also remembered how he hated to have his clothes changed. He had to choose them and put them on himself. If he didn’t the socks would somehow get on crooked, and the seams would be all wrong, and buttons would be pressing against his skin. It was awful.
Sit. Breathe. Case closes his eyes. Breathe. Breathe. Sit. Breathe.
OK. Really, he needs to change her, that’s more important. And he’ll either let her put on her clothes herself, or he’ll do it so carefully, that the heels of the sock match up with her little heels, and the toes of the sock are all straight, with no weird wrinkles, and the seams are not crooked, and everything feels right.
And it goes just as he plans. She’s mad through the whole thing, pouting, glaring at him. But he focuses on doing the entire process right, in the most comfortable way, and when he’s done, he asks if she wants more story, and she replies, “Hungry.”
Her vegan BLT makes her forget all about being mad. Crumbs fly! Vegan mayo is sweet and goopy! And lettuce! The sandwich is delicious, but it’s even more fun to smoosh.
“Good to see you enjoying your meal!” Case says.
“Yum-yum!” replies Kiki, angry no more.