Sunday Afternoon

“Tata, I want to help!” she calls as she hops down the deck stairs. With an armful of branches and twigs, I’m agreeable, but I smile, wondering how much help I’m actually going to get.

“Grab a couple branches,” I explain, “and follow me.”

We march to the street, L chattering all the way, explaining how she’s going to explain tomorrow how she helped her daddy.

Suddenly, behind me, I hear it: “Ouch!” She’s rubbing her eye; I’m wondering when she’s going to ask for a bandage. It’s been her obsession lately: no matter the wound, no matter the location, there must be First Aid.

“The stick went in my eye,” she says, with concerned voice. After so many months of learning her various voices, I know it’s nothing serious. It’s not quite play — something did happen — but perhaps her concern is exaggerated. She sees K and me hurt ourselves, and she models the reaction.

“Come on,” I say offhandedly. “You’ll be fine. Little things happen when you work as hard as you’re working now.

She plods along, amending the story she’s going to tell tomorrow, practicing the Tragedy of the Stick.

As we’re returning to the backyard, the late afternoon sun reflects off the golden autumn leaves, and it’s as if she’s walking into pure light or developing a halo. I walk about twenty paces behind, watching her hair bounce and sway as she dances into a golden November afternoon.

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