She picks up a fistful of sand and turns to look at me, hand hovering in front of her mouth. A half-smile plays on her lips and dances across her eyebrows. Are you going to stop me?
I ask her to lay down. To rest. She's going to the hockey game tonight and it starts at her bedtime. Trying to nap was written into the you-can-go-if contract. She gets in her bed. I draw the shades and leave the room. Maaaaamaaaaaa? Can you stay in here with me? She knows I can't -- Ruthie is out and about. Maaaaamaaaaaa? It's too dark in here. I crack the shades. Maaaaamaaaaaa? I'm not tired. I explain the deal one more time. She's stalling. I know she's tired. I leave the room again.
It's the usual battle. I ask her to do something, it doesn't matter what. Change your skirt, please -- that one is way too small. *** Let your sister be -- she said she doesn't want to play that game. *** Please, please stop trying to pick up the baby ** If her mood is just so, she responds with a decided negative. No. I don't want to. Stop making me do stuff. There's the sigh or the foot stomp or the door slam. Talk back again -- make another sound -- and there's going to be a consequence. She has to ask -- What will it be?
I've got 30 minutes of relative quiet. I plug into my iPod to drown out the whines and laughter of other people's kids in this small waiting room and I stare again at my shaky list of scenes. They may or may not take me there, across this story. But I have nothing else to do but start. I write a paragraph in first person. My teenage girl's voice. I'm not sure it feels right. I widen it into third person. Wonder how it might read from the mother's perspective. Or from his. I look again at the list of scenes. Assign a different voice to each one.
I've never done this before. I'm learning how to be.