She raced out of the bathroom and I tried to keep up. I pulled my hands from under the cold running water, jerking them upwards at too quick an angle.
The metal lip of the faucet caught my thumb just above the knuckle. All I wanted was to plunge the wound back under the water, rinse away the sharp stabbing ache, and watch the water turn pink around the drain. But she was fast. She was about to slam her bedroom door, and I'd just gotten the baby to sleep.
I clenched a dusky purple towel in my fist, and lunged after her: the joyful noisemaker. I eased us into her bedroom, gentling the door into its frame. I told her things.
Keep quiet things.
Mommy's going to rest things.
We hugged and kissed, and her eyes landed on my towel before I backed away. Because she asked -- ever curious, with her eyebrows folded into concern -- I showed her the small cut shaped like a flat whisk bent on scrambling the creases of my thumb. Red-feathered lines of blood had seeped into my dry skin.
And I was about to tell her how it had happened. The question was clear in her eyes, blue and deep. Instead, I searched my thoughts for quick words to convey the smallness of this wound. Fast rebuttals of the need for a band-aid or an ice pack -- those things which spell relief for a preschooler -- because mommy really did need rest. Not a prolonged pre-nap examination of a minor scrape by a little girl who would find any weakness to exploit as a means of NOT napping.
She grabbed my wrist in creamy white, though marker-stained, hands. I began to pull away; naptime: not fix-mama-time.
But the pressure of her round fingers made me pause. She pulled my hand to her face, stared at the pink scar with intensive care for half a breath, and rested a kiss on my knuckle. I could barely feel it through the sting of the tiny cut.
Although somehow, when I left the room -- gentling the door closed once more, tiptoeing past the baby's room -- the pressure of the kiss still clung to my skin.
It pulsed there all afternoon. Slowing me down long enough to notice the particular sweetness of this girl and her comfortable innocence.