“Lucas,” she wriggled her feet in, “Are you in love?”
He grinned at her tiny shadowy figure. “Maybe.”
“You look it.”
“Do I? How can you tell?”
“You smiled when I said the word love.”
“You couldn’t see my face!”
“But I heard you talking to mommy before.”
“I was talking to her about a girl.”
“Do you love her?”
“Who, your mommy?”
“No,” she giggled, “The girl!”
He pondered for a while, the plastic constellation above his head glowed and tipped.
“You’re doing that look again.”
“What look?” He flicked back to her.
“The look you did when you showed us that picture.”
“The picture of me and my friends at my party?”
“Yes. And you looked like the picture was telling you to smile.”
He laughed silently, tucking the blanket under her chin.
“What does she look like?” His cousin’s eyes gleamed.
She looks like the moon in the daytime, a tulip unfolding, the slipper that fits.
“Well,” he tilted his head and looked at her eyes, seven years worth of curiosity. “She has long brown hair, like the princess in your book and blue eyes, like your mom’s earrings. She’s tall, like a sunflower and she smiles like you do when you’re allowed to open your presents early.”
“Can she sing?” She tilted her head the same way.
“Yes she can.”
“What does she sound like?”
The way you feel when you hear the bath running or the mailman knocking, the sound you make when you run your fingers through a beaded curtain.
“She sounds like those wind chimes outside your window.”
“The ones that keep me from getting scared at night?”
“Those very ones.”
“Does she get scared like I do?”
“She’s not afraid of the dark…” She’s afraid of finding something in the dark. She’s afraid of losing something she held a moment ago, and the thought of coming home to an empty house. “She’s afraid of pricking her finger when she sews.”
“She sews…” Cara lay on her pillow, lace framing her head. For a moment he thought she was asleep but she spoke again. “What else does she do?”
“She sews and..?”
“She sews and she bakes gingerbread houses and she talks to strangers-”
“She talks to strangers?”
“No she doesn’t!” He said quickly. “I mean she says hello to her neighbors.”
She teaches and she learns how to interpret silence. She listens for the sound a swan makes when it’s hungry, she feeds babies knowledge too complex for their infancy and she dances like roses are falling on her.
“Do her neighbors like her?”
“They love her.”
“Because when she waters her garden, she whistles.”
Because her laughter reminds them of building sandcastles in bucket hats, making mudpies with sticks and trading Lego for stickers.
Cara giggled. “I think you should marry her, Lucas.”
Lucas laughed, “You think so?”
“Yes. Because if a girl can whistle and make gingerbread houses and sews even though she’s afraid, it means she’s really pretty right?”
Lucas stroked her dark curls, wishing innocence would last forever.
“And she makes you go all quiet and smiley.” She ducked her face into her soft toy dog and peeked at him from under its tail.
“Alright. Goodnight, princess Cara.”
“Goodnight. You can turn off my lamp now, but don’t shut the door.”
A flick of the switch and the only light slipped through the door.
“You are still my prettiest girl,” he patted her on his way out.
“And she’s your prettiest lady right?”