She fingers the bright bindings piled in rows in the brimful basket at our feet and plucks a few, plunking them down on the couch before swinging one leg up, and then the other. Curling into me, her tiny frame fits snugly against mine in the afternoon sunlight. And we sink into pillows and my eyes chase letters and her ears chase cadence and we drift deeper into wonder with each turn of the page. And sometimes she interrupts and sometimes she yawns and sometimes she shouts, “Again!” when the last word is uttered. And on and on we romp through the magic hour that now feels natural as breathing and I watch her dark eyes dart – captivated. And I whisper gratitude and fall in love again with this and motherhood and her. And later, when the house falls silent, and all the doing is done, I pull out the book…her book.
The small one with the bumblebee and the reaching flowers and the lined pages of list upon list – beloved books and authors scrawled in her momma’s hand – a record of what one small girl saw and heard and loved, again and again. And I remember and write and smile. And imagine, years from now, a young woman with dancing dark eyes, whispering between the library shelves, clutching a chubby dimpled hand on one side, and this book on the other. And when the small one in her shadow asks (loudly, of course), “What book are we gonna get, Momma?”, she’ll whisper back, “Well, when I was three, I loved…”