"Seriously," she whispered back to me, her eyes wide and bright, filled with excitement, "I don't even care."
"Seriously," I whispered back, "I hope that you always feel this way." We locked eyes and I wondered if she would remember that moment, the two of us, whispering, in a bathroom stall because she's big enough to not want to hold my hand anymore, but not to overcome the terror that is the automatically flushing toilet.
The morning was brutal when I found her painting her nails instead of brushing her teeth and my words spilled out like hot lava, burning a path of destruction even as I tried my hardest to temper my words.
"You have to make better decisions," my voice clipping away at her on the way to school, "you have to learn how to manage time and know that when I say 'five minutes' you don't start to paint your nails. Time management. Basic function."
I adjusted my rear view mirror so that I couldn't see her face out of the corner like I usually can because this was life, damn it, and she needed to know. If I didn't teach her, how would she ever learn?
There's no crying in baseball.
Her eyes were still red when she opened the car door to say goodbye to me. "You just have to learn, Peanut. I love you and I hope you have a good day." She stared back at me, unsure of what to do next. "Close the door and get into school."
She looked back at me three times as she made her way to the door.
"Too bad; that's life," I kept saying over and over as my stomach churned.
It was three hours before I called the school to tell them that she had an appointment and I'd be picking her up.
She could hardly contain herself when I told her that we were actually going to lunch and the movies.
We talked like two old souls over lunch of her choice, serious conversations about behavior and consequences and understanding that I had made a big mistake when I yelled at her; if we were different people we could have been lovers reconciling; our hands briefly entwining over and over, a kiss to her forehead, tears in both of our eyes.
She ran into the empty theatre and I tried my best to jog behind her as she rattled off her ticket selection while blurting out that she wanted the pink and blue cotton candy.
She wanted to sit in the top row of the empty theatre, "Of course," I thought; reminding myself that once upon a time I had thought of her very existence as that flight of stairs.
It was after the show, in the bathroom, when I discovered the cotton candy woven into her hair like magic, "Seriously," I whispered, "you have cotton candy in your hair."
A cement truck was in front of us on the drive home. "Why does that thing keep moving around and around?"
"It has to keep moving," I said, "otherwise the cement will get hard and you wouldn't be able to move it."
I adjusted my rear view mirror to watch her eyes.
"So if it quits moving then it can't move anymore unless there is a hurricane or a tornado or something like that that comes along and picks it up to make it move?"
"Sort of like that," I said, watching the center cavity of the truck churn over and over and over again, wondering if I was awaiting a storm or if I were still churning, awaiting my destination.
Make the best of it.