I sat in the gloom of a darkened room, working my way through a million emails. Behind me, in the still house, I heard the rustle of a boy sneaking up on me.
He is taken with the mystery and intrigue of spying, and is most probably going to be a spy when he grows up. That is, if he isn’t an engineer or architect. If I were more concerned about the possibility of him actually pursuing a career in espionage, I would probably tell him that your better spies usually don’t sneak up upon their victims at the same exact time every night. That sort of thing will usually tip people off.
But I don’t suppose boys who are equally enchanted by the prospect of engineering usually grow up to choose the life of a spy, so I don’t worry about it. Instead I smile at the clock when I hear him creeping up behind me, every night at 8:45, and say, “Hi, Tre,” when he gets close.
“Hi, Tre,” I called out into the dark, and I heard him slump to the floor in defeat.
“How do you KNOW?”
“I’m your mother,” I swiveled around to look at him, “I know everything.”
He smiled up at me from the floor. He used to fix me with a worried look, and ask if it was true, did I really know everything? But now he doesn’t even entertain the notion. He KNOWS I don’t know everything. He’s far too sophisticated to believe such a claim. His attitude has shifted, of late. He’s not uninterested in my opinion, so much as under-interested. He takes my words with a mild grain of salt and moves on.
“How’s your toe?” I asked. He’d sustained a wound in a skirmish with Raphael earlier in the evening. He showed me his toe, which prompted a discussion of how badly his finger and toenails needed clipping. He inspected his fingers seriously and reluctantly admitted they probably did.
“A-GAIN,” he sighed, bemoaning the fact that he’d just CLIPPED them mere WEEKS ago.
“Yup. Well, your fingernails grow pretty fast, kid.”
“They do? Why?”
“I don’t know. Because you’re healthy, I suppose.”
“I AM healthy! Wanna see me do push-ups?” I nodded, and he dropped to the floor. I watched his shoulders, which seem so unexpectedly broad and manly, flex under the cloth of his racecar jammies. “One…two…three…four…five!” He leaped to his feet and grinned at me. In the dim light I saw a shimmering in his face, a dissonant appearance of Tre the baby boy, then Tre the man. He is growing so fast, yet he smiled at me like the child who once dogged my heels.
“G’night, Mama,” he said, planting a hurried kiss on my cheek.
I sat in the dark and watched him go.