My alarm sounds at 5:40. I had set it to a gentle, swelling song but the notes still hook me in the gills and leave me flopping on shore. Not enough, I gasp. But I get up anyway and pull jeans over leggings, surveying my starting point: rust in my joints and fog behind my eyes.
I always feel better by 6:01, though, so I keep moving. The daily walk with my neighbor and our dogs has become a critical part of a healthy routine that has held me whole through these months of cabin fever and sleep deprivation.
But by the time I've put in my contacts and sipped a bit of coffee, I realize that it's raining too hard to go out. I'm disappointed, of course, but I'll take these few pre-dawn minutes alone anyway. I sit on the couch, hanging onto my mug, watching fog web the spaces between the still-bare tree branches. The coffee's heat steeps into my palms and the rain taps on the roof (of my soul).
I don't want the sun to come up just yet. I'm not ready for the day to begin.
But her bare feet on the hardwood floor draw me to the surface. I smile at her sleepy face, at her bright eyes, at the life brimming there. She doesn't need any coffee.
Mama, can I turn on the light? she whispers.
Of course, I answer. Light opens the room.
I look back at the window but the lamp creates a glare, and the glass no longer promises a portal to the world outside. Instead, it reflects the wall, the fireplace, the mantle clock, her form. My focus shifts and I swallow the last of my coffee. It's time to make breakfast.