My slippers padded silently down the hallway, stepping over a pile of dinky cars and past two tangled Barbie dolls. The bundle of laundry locked in my arms smelled questionable and triggered a revelation as to why my four year old daughter had come down fully dressed that morning. Mental note to change her bed sheets right away, after disposing of the current bundle and before tackling the breakfast dishes.
Amber’s sweet voice floated over her smelly pajamas from the nearby vicinity of her dad’s office. Both kids had been hanging out in there over the last few days hoping to feel close to their father, wishing him home. At night when the house was dark and still, I spent a few minutes in there with my own wishes, wrapped tight in my robe and dreading the coldness of an empty bed.
Amber’s tone was full of curiousity and the answering mumble of her older brother was surprisingly patient. Stilling myself, I waited to catch the conversation unobserved.
“Where is China?” The sound of the enormous globe spinning in its stand whirred over her small voice. Feet shuffled across the carpet.
“Um, right here, the big, pink one.” Daniel was a good reader for a seven year old and had spent lots of time spinning that globe. I heard him point out a few more countries with pride in his voice. “There’s Russia. It’s huge and real cold and the people march around a lot. That green one is India.”
“Is that where the Indians live? Is it? But where do the cowboys live?” I could picture her wide, green eyes focused on Daniel in all seriousness, quite sure of his extensive knowledge.
His voice shrugged with his boney shoulders. “Dunno, maybe over there. Ahhh, that’s Bangladesh. I guess they called it that because their guns make a bang sound.”
She murmured her agreement and inquired again. I wondered afresh why every answer seemed to sprout a new question in her mind. “What are all these bumps here? They feel neat, kinda like mommy’s legs.” My cheeks flushed, just wait until she encountered cellulite.
“Those bumpy bits are mountains called the Him-lay-ons. Maybe God laid down there to rest, like on the seventh day or something.” She murmured again appreciatively and my chest filled with a breath of momma-pride. At least he remembered that God had rested on the seventh day.
“What’s this… and this… and this? Oooohhhh, what’s this pretty yellow one with the bumpy bits all over it?” She was getting excited, her words almost falling on top of each other.
“That’s Turkey,” he said with a bit of hesitation. There must be a lot of names crowded together on that part of the globe.
“Like Granny makes at Thanksgiving? Yum, where’s the sweet taters and pumpkin pie?”
“Not that kind of turkey. The food just comes from over there, that’s why it’s called turkey, get it?” I stifled a giggle; this was getting stranger by the minute.
“No wonder we just eat it at Granny’s house. Mommy says only Granny has time to make big dinners, I guess cause they come from so far away.”
I gulped and resolved to keep my mouth shut more often.
Daniel’s voice quieted. “This is Hong Kong, way at the edge of China. This little dot, see?” I could picture their heads bent together over the globe, her golden curls beside his chocolate brown shag, staring at the tiny words on the plastic ball.
There was silence for a few heartbeats, and I leaned closer to catch her whisper.
“Do you think King Kong lives there? Will he get daddy?”
His own whisper answered back, comforting, “Nope, King Kong don’t live anywhere near there. And daddy’s not afraid of any monkeys anyways, I know it. He’s coming back home from there just as soon as his work is done.”
I blinked back a tear and shoved my face into the laundry. Smell or no smell, I couldn’t risk an escaped sob giving my presence away.
Help us get through the next four weeks Lord. And please bring their daddy home safe.
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