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Six O' Clock in the Morning
It was early. Too early to be eating cookies, in fact. But Leslie had been looking forward to this for too long to back down. It was six o’clock on a Saturday morning. Mom and Dad had gone out to a late dinner with Nana the night before so they wouldn’t be waking up now. And Caroline was hungover.
The birds were chirping and the sky was beginning to blush at the sight of the sun coming its way.
Leslie reached into the cabinet and found the box she was looking for. It was warm and wrapped in light blue, gold, and white paper. She gently reached around the box and ran her fingertips along the smooth, rounded edges, before quickly prying off the lid like a boy would peel a blouse off a girl.
The smell was delicious and she reached in to pick out two cookies, one oatmeal chocolate-chip, the other frosted sugar. Enough to satisfy her but not enough to look too conspicuous. She folded the valuables in a napkin and went to make some coffee.
That being done, she stepped onto the deck with the cookies in one hand, the steaming mug in the other. She used her bare ball of her foot to gently, gently slide the screen door behind her. Sinking into the chaise lounge chair, Leslie took the first sip of foam, coffee, cream, and sugar She chased it with one bite of frosted sugar cookie which sent her lying back in bliss. It was a warm, summer day, the kind that was losing its breeze to oncoming humidity.
Crumbs fell onto her nightgown as she continued to bite, bite, bite, sip. As she started the next cookie, she wondered whether Kai would call tonight. She hadn’t talked to him in a while and she missed his voice. But she knew he was avoiding her, just like everyone else. He said it was because he didn’t know what to say.
She twirled her tongue around a melting chocolate chip in thought. The clouds were happy and golden pink with vulnerable white underbellies.
There were only the few crumbs left and the last lukewarm sips of coffee now. She licked her fingers one by one and then used her wet pinky to pick at the cookie crumbs on her nightgown like a hen pecks at grains of corn. One by one she put them in her mouth following them along the keys of her teeth until they dissolved. Then she ate another one and so on and so forth.
And she did this delicately because each crumb was even better tasting then the cookie and they made her wonder “Was that really what it tasted like?”
As she put the last crumb in her mouth, the sun finally emerged fully into the sky, like a newborn baby. In a few minutes, her mom would wake up, check Caroline’s room, then Leslie’s room. Maybe panic at the sight of Leslie’s empty bed, come downstairs, see her daughter through the screen door. She would come out and stroke Leslie’s hairless head, and inquire as to why she was outside, when what she really wanted to ask was “Are you okay? Does anything hurt?” By this time, Leslie would have erased any traces of the cookies from her person; the napkin would be a crumpled secret in her hand. She would look at her mom and say that Caroline’s snoring was bothering her. Her mom would kiss her gently and tell her to get ready, she had a chemo appointment.
But right now, it was just Leslie, her delighted stomach, and the sun stretching in the sky. It turned to Leslie and she felt the brilliance of its enthusiastic “Hello” on her bare head. For now it felt good to just be treated as honestly and unabashedly as possible.
Right now just being Leslie was good enough.