The Superheroes

When the younger one trips, the older one hugs him and kisses the top of his head and whispers soothing words into his ears. He helps him up and they throw their bodies against the headboard, leaving fresh dents in the blue paint.

The Woman Who Couldn't Breathe

He calls out for another hug, but she ignores him and throws herself on the couch, breathing in the quiet. She lays in front of the TV until her eyes hurt and her mouth feels dry. Then, she makes her way to her own bedroom, shimmying out of her jeans and slipping underneath the covers without removing her makeup or washing her face or brushing her teeth.

The Head Start

When she goes upstairs, the older one is waiting for her. There is yarn strewn about the room, knotted together with hangers that he has pulled out of his closet. He smiles and gathers his blankets and his trucks.

The Move

She never wanted to move here, begged for somewhere cooler, where seasons were well defined, and everyone owned thick winter coats and rubber boots to protect their feet from the snow. Here, it’s hot and humid and her hair curls at her temples. She can feel a sheen of sweat bead across the bridge of her nose as soon as she steps outside.

The Coffee Break

He is laughing, and his hair is blowing in the wind. Her fingers itch to tuck it behind his ears, but she is already in line, the taste of coffee across her tongue.

The Emptiness

They look blankly at her as she places her hands on their shoulders, both confused for a minute about how she is suddenly there. Then, the older one screams with anger, and the younger one copies him, and everyone around them looks towards her, alarm in their eyes.

The Renovations

The rain started as they walked back to the house. It was cold and hard and they were both soaked by the time they reached the gate. Inside, she turned off the window units and opened the windows to let the rain-cooled air in

The Hike

The climb is steady, and slowly the woods around them quiet as they move deeper into the trees. Her older one is a fast hiker and they move quickly, hopping over tree roots and giant rocks that have fallen onto the path.

The Observer

Now, however, it was summer, and the days stretched out before them like cross country track meets, each one ending with the three of them dripping in sweat and exhausted, hands on their knees and gulping for air.

The Road Trip

At two years old, their son hated his car seat, got restless after an hour or so buckled in. They had driven to the beach a month ago, a test run, they had called it. After forty-five minutes he had started kicking the back of her seat, pounding his fists against his armrests.

The Late Fee

The radio played songs from her childhood, beat out tunes as familiar to her as her own heartbeat, melodies that hummed through her bloodstream whenever she dared to listen. She was late, as usual. The alarm on her phone had gone off twice before she had complied and began gathering her things.

The Yard

She could still taste the sweat in the air as all the neighborhood kids ran from yard to yard, hunted by whoever was "it," every muscle taught with electricity.

The Afternoon

She had been hesitant, unwilling to deal with the inevitable mess that would come afterward, the dripping clothes, the waterlogged shoes, the exhausted screaming as she peeled his shirt up over his head. She was glad he had thought of it though, cajoled her into letting their son be little.

The Edge

When she thought of him, she could still feel his small head against her chest in the middle of the night, her tears falling on his cheeks as she begged him to sleep.

The Ocean

She watched as her youngest dug in the sand, his hair curling from underneath his hat. The sand stuck to the insides of his elbows, the backs of his knees, places where the sunscreen was wet and thick. He tossed heaps of it over his shoulder, sending it flying into the wind.

The Morning

His dad would bring him down the stairs, and he would squirm to be put down so that he could make his way to the pantry to find the Goldfish. Then, the two of them would sit on the couch and watch Mickey

The Brothers

He knew that he wasn’t allowed to touch any of them, so he would circle the rocking chair like he was circling an altar, glancing at the rows and rows of trucks with a look of reverence, itching to grab a few.

The Routine

The older one laughed and shouted made up words, and the younger one laughed with him, shouting his own made-up words, each speaking their own language. They screamed so loud the echoes ricocheted off the walls and down the stairs, filling the entire house with their noise.

The Stars

They play leap frog over the treetops, and the stars surround him as they sail through clouds that reach out and try to grab his toes.