It was late into a Friday night. I was not sleepy. I had to use the washroom.
I did not have to make many naked, post-coital steps around the house. The house was small, but I had no roommates: only my girlfriend, my daughter and I lived there. I took the small walk. While I did my business, I stared at the wall in front of me. On the other side of the wall, west, was my daughter's room. Behind me, east, was my bedroom. I could hear my girlfriend talking; we were sweet-talking, baby-talking. We were sunning ourselves in the afterglow and our senses were heightened. The slightest touch between us sent fire into our limbs. The salty-human taste was intensified. And, beyond our control, we became aware of the slightest sound. When you have a child, your auditory acuity develops anew, if you hope to protect your child. The slightest nightly noise could mean anything.
So you sleep with one ear open. After I'd flushed the toilet, and regarded my own tired face in the mirror, I heard a muffled sound, just at the edge of hearing. My heart didn't race, and I didn't charge forth into my daughter's room, fearful for anything. It was a friendly sound, a sleep-sound.
I walked into my daughter's room, and she was in mid-rollover. No problems here, the threat level is zero. She rolled onto her back. She was wearing her pajamas, the cute ones trimmed in pink, a trifle small for her, inconstantly finding their way up past her knees. No one wants to see their child in ill-fitting clothing, but there was a certain homely beauty as she laid there. One arm was stretched out above her head, both pantlegs were rolled up, and her face was the face of sleep. Adults do not sleep that well. We toss, we turn, we talk or walk in our sleep. Gone is the time when we could drop all unconscious defenses and wallow in sleep, like babies do.
I pulled the chair from my daughter's desk over to her bed, sat down, and watched. I did not sit and think, oh, how beautiful, this which sprung from my loins. I did not think of future children, and their sleep. I thought of nothing, and watched her. I watched her eyebrow furrow at some dreamt thing, and wondered what dreams she dreamt, unfettered by sad things and accumulated pains. We had given her none. To this day, she has never been yelled at by her parents, and still sleeps the sleep of a baby.
What does a baby dream, when a day of discovering her world ends? Does she dream of long grass and grasshoppers jumping about our unkempt lawn? Does she dream of the sun, high among the trees, splashing shadows on her hands? She told me once that she dreamed of mommy, and that it was a good dream.
There was a tap on my shoulder, then arms slung themselves over my shoulders, across my chest, the affirming press of breasts behind a flimsy robe across my back.
"Hey," Trina said, her voice bordering on whisper, "What are you doing?"
"Not much," I said, as I watched. "Just thinking."
About three years later, Trina and I attended my daughter's first play. It was a Christmas play, and my daughter was an elf, in her first year of kindergarten.
Trina and I had split up, amicably but suddenly, to give us time to grow up and taste the worlds as the adults we are becoming. I had seen her three or four times in as many months.
She dressed herself up for it, I noticed. I was struck immediately by her serenity as she guarded the seat saved for me. We talked the talk of unfamiliar strangers as we sat, knowing we needed each other, knowing that life had moved on.
The principal of the school spoke, there was applause, and the lights dimmed. The music teacher played piano horribly while my daughter's class filed out. Their teacher showed them their places. My daughter was right up front, and she had to fight around swathes of anxious, picture-taking parents to search for mommy and daddy. After half a minute or so of searching, she finally stood up, and yelled.
"Mommy!" she yelled. "Mommy!"
She was not upset. But hey, it was noisy. She had to raise her voice. There was light-hearted, fawning laughter and applause from the crowd as mommy approached. Presently, mommy sorted her out, pointed me out, and Alia smiled and waved. I waved back. Trina came back, sat down, and we watched the rest of the play. There were other children, but I noticed none. I couldn't even tell you what the play's theme or central idea was. But sometine during, one of the scenes that my daughter wasn't in, I found that Trina and I had linked hands. As I noticed, so did she. We looked at each other, and smiles were exchanged. Sometimes, these things are meant to happen, I'm sure of it.
I was the proudest man on earth.
The fallout has passed. Trina and I have reorganized, reprioritized, and redeployed with heroic vigor. We have spent many hours rediscussing our past failings and coming up with new ones. In short, we have been happy and are on a speedy road to a full recovery. No traction.
Trina and Alia spend a day out of every weekend here, and every day and night spent are clear-skied, the sun is out, the moon full, never waning. With luck, there are aurora out, embracing the earth.
One night, maybe a month ago, Trina and I had both worked full weeks of work, and were interested only in sleep. We kept our daughter occupied with colouring and games until bathtime. But shortly after bathtime, we vowed, it was time for a good, long sleep. Alia was tired after her bath, and sleep is exactly what we did.
At 3:12 AM I woke up, to a dead silence. There were no noises coming from the living room, only the faint buzz of the city held back by my window. I turned over and looked at Trina, close enough to watch her eyes as they moved at some seen thing in her dream.
A voice, from my left, west: "Daddy?"
"Wha you doin?" The bed shifted; a body clambers between us.
"Not much," I told her. "Just thinking."
"Can I sleep with you?"
"Sure, if you like. Want some pillows?"
"No, I'll share with mommy." Her voice quiets into a secret. "Wanna know why?"
"I love you, daddy," she said, "but I'd like some dreams too."