In the morning after I've slipped on my shirt and my pants and tied back my hair I crack the door open and intrude into the stillness of his room. I turn on the light, I turn off the fan, and I slide back the curtains. I glance over with each step to see if he's stirring, if today he will be in up-and-at-em mode or hide-under-the-covers. When nothing moves beyond the rhythmic rise and fall of his chest I kneel down beside his bed. The lighted crown of his head is the only indicator that there's an occupant hiding beneath a mess of blankets.
I came in with every intention of waking him, and I will, because I must, but I hesitate. I sit in the pale morning light that streams in from the window, prostrate on the floor next to his bed. The clock is ticking, and I can't move. My toes run deep rivers in the strands of the carpet. I'm held captive there between the seconds, his vulnerable form disguised below by carefully situated blankets, snuggled and blissfully unaware.
I resist the urge to reach out and touch a soft curl of hair that has escaped its brethren across his pillow and I think to myself, "This is what fucking psychopaths do. They watch you when you're sleeping." Whatever moment was born and gasping for air there at my altar is broken.
"Kid. Wake up."
"What? Oh, hey Mom." He rubs his eyes with the back of his wrist. "I'm fighting cookie man."
We hold hands when we go downstairs.