She is very, very old. The cold bothers her bones but this is her home. She always waits out the winter.
She prefers the rocking chair positioned just so in the living room, where the windows let in the most light. She reads for hours, turning the pages slowly, occasionally. Just when you think she might like to move, when the sun has crept up into her lap and is kissing her face, you see she's fallen asleep. Her eyes are closed, at least. The book drapes open across the armrest. Her hand marks the page.
Is she really sleeping? Is she dreaming?
Back and back and back
to today, when the dollhouse sat in a puddle of sun and she stopped doing for just awhile to play pretend with Middlest and Littlest. She laid on her back in that sun but didn't close her eyes and spoke for the doll they determined was hers and looked up through the not-baby's curls as she stepped over her and wondered aloud in the lines fed to her by the older one where has that girl gone. She was warm all over and tucked in up to her chin with contentment. Then the sun was on her cheeks and she closed her eyes for a moment and remembered
back and back
to when the seed germinating inside was her very first and she worked in the evenings after attending the last of her college classes in the mornings. There were occasional empty afternoons. Just right for curling on the couch in that tiny apartment's living room, the one with the windows that were large enough to let in luxury -- long swaths of warm light on those chilly spring days. And she would nap, her feet tucked into the perfect patch of sun. It would move up her legs, across her belly, before finally brushing her face and bringing her back
She opens her eyes and you see a smile starting. Not at her mouth but the corners of her eyes. Her lips move. You can't hear it but she whispers --