"I am the sign painter of the illiterati."
He looks up at me from almond eyes and grins an almost toothy grin, his weakened legs wobbly and unsure. Stubby fingers reach for me and his coo beckons me "come down here to me now."
"DaDa. DaDaDaDaDa! DaDaDADADADAAA!!!" His word for everything.
I will not refuse. I lift him up, eye to eye, cheek to cheek, heart to heart. He is mine. He is me. “Hey, Joe! Whaddaya know?”
His skin is soft and smooth; the fine, velvety hairs cover every inch of his little body and his fingers go straight for my face. My ears. My glasses. They are whipped off before I can defend. His baby-pot-belly pokes from beneath his drool soaked shirt.
"DaDa. DaDaDa! DaDaDADADAAaaada!!!" he commands, his voice rising and softening at the end. A grin. He shoves an elbow into my mouth, imploring me to sniggle his armpit and I can not resist. His laughter is instant, even before my mouth and chin make contact with his goosey-spot.
"Sweetboy," I say. "Sugarboy." His syrup runs down his still grinning chin and onto his shirt. The arm. The elbow. Again. Again.
Snicker. Snuggle. Tickle. Giggle.
I zerbert his fleshy cheek with a loud razberry and he tucks his shoulder to his ear, giggling, pushing me away with one arm, pulling me in with the other.
Baby smell. I inhale deeply, this Ponce de Leon potion of youth; odor of life. Pure. I inhale again.
He pushes my face away, taking in my features, sans glasses now at my feet. "You don't need those", he is saying. "Look at me. Look at me. What do you see?" I take his dollish hand with my calloused fingers scarred from labor and caress my stubbled cheek with it.
"Rough!" I instruct. "Rough. Daddy's face is rough!"
He pats his thigh, the sign for "dog", then balls up his fists and smudges at the corners of his mouth, the sign for cat. His sign for cat.
"Cat. Yes! Dog...ruff ruff! Cat...meyoowww! Meyoowww!"
As if on cue, our dog barks outside. His eyebrows arch high and he points at the door.
"DaDa! DaaaDaaaDAADA!" He squirms in my arms, pleas to be taken outside to see Buddy.
"No, bubba. It's raining. Raining." I make the sign for rain, but he waddles over to the French door, looks back over his shoulder, pulls back the blinds. The sky is ominous, dark and dreary; crying, wailing.
Flash! Thunder. Thunder. Thunder.
"DaDa! DaaaDaaaDADADA!" He turns and races back to me, fear on his face. "DaDAADaa!!" I sweep him away, up into my branches, my wings, my fortress. He looks back at the door, searching for the monster he knows is pursuing him. None. Nothing. Then DaDa. The arm. The elbow. The grin.
"How can I ever explain you?" I look into those delicate, almond-shaped eyes, bluer than blue. Deep, white-flecked amethysts. Jewels. "You are my sun."
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