You weren’t in a hurry that morning. Your Blackberry played the Pinball Countdown from Sesame Street at 5 am and you woke without the slightest hint of grogginess. You let Mia sleep in that morning, because she wasn’t a morning person; that’d been established in her infancy. She’d let you sleep till 9, if you let her, but woke you every midnight, like clockwork. Five years later, not much had changed, though the midnight awakenings had mercifully dwindled to two a week.
You were glad to be rid of her. This is among the few things that are easy to remember. You regularly peeked into her bedroom door, kept slightly ajar, because she wailed whenever you shut it. You took in the lavender walls, the glittery unicorns prancing arrogantly across her ceiling. Her tiny brown face, round and sweet as any cookie, was all her firmly tucked Strawberry Shortcake comforter exposed. She was so still when she slept that it seemed she was certain she wasn’t missing anything during all those hours she spent doing nothing. The world surely ceased its spinning every time Mia closed her eyes.
That morning, you studied her, fervent as a stalker. Her eyelids were two wilting rose petals, her lips two puckered tildes. Her nose crinkled cutely, like skunks had overtaken the happy forest in her dream. You smiled warmly at her, which was rare, and actually tipped toward her bed with every intention of delivering a rather risky kiss. (Mia slept in, but she also slept lightly.) But when you reached her bedside, your face four feet from hers, you recoiled. The expression that seemed so cherubic from across the fairy-bedecked room now resembled something out of Children of the Corn. Mia was baring Tic-Tac-sized teeth. Her impossibly tight ringlets writhed across her pillowcase.
You half-expected her eyelids to fly open, her gaze to turn you to stone.