Sliding out of bed, Leopold hurried to his chest of wonders. Lifting up the wooden lid, he rummaged around, pawing this toy and that out of his way until he reached the near bottom where he greedily grabbed for the wood airplane. Its black and white paint gleaming in the morning sun, it flew over the messy landscape of his bedroom. Making the sound of the wind passing over, he snatched his aviator hat before following the airplane out of his room and into the hallway.
In the hallway, he zoomed past the bathroom and into the kitchen where the most delicious smell was wafting its way towards his nose. Momentarily distracted, the plane lost a foot and a half of elevation as he sniffed the air, when he felt a pair of strong hands suddenly swoop him up and throw him into the air.
Leopold’s heart swelled to see his father of all people first thing in the morning, and he shrieked out of delight. Tightly wrapping his arms and legs around him (maybe then he wouldn’t leave and they could all stay together), he laughed with his father.
“Good morning, Leopold.”
“You’re here!” he beamed. “Are you going to stay?”
“Of course I am. I wouldn’t miss your birthday for the world. Happy birthday, son.”
He was thrilled to see a beautifully wrapped present with a fat bow magically appear in his father’s free hand, and he eagerly reached for it. Squirming to be let down, he rushed to his mother who was placing plates of cinnamon buns and chocolate waffles and was that a caramel donut???
“Happy birthday, Leopold.” She bent down to kiss him, and he was pleased to find that she smelled just like warm sugar and love. “Did you sleep well?”
“Yup. I had a funny dream.”
“Really? Well then why don’t you go wash your face and hands with Papa, and we can have some breakfast while you tell us your dream. Okay?”
Nodding, he pressed the gift in his mother’s hands before running to his father. She set it down at the end of the table, away from the morning feast so as to preserve the wrapping. Loosening her hair from its bun, she reached around to untie her apron when she was reminded of his hands on her waist and his lips on her neck as he pressed against her as he teased her by pulling on her apron and running his hands up her shirt…
Thank God for her son. If he hadn’t run in at the moment he had, there was no telling what could have happened. Not that she could really be chagrined; they’d done much more the night before, hadn’t they? After Leopold had gone to bed and he had closed up the restaurant, he’d come to her, and she’d been reminded of his bedtime idiosyncrasies like the way he always needed a nightcap of hard, hard liquor to help him sleep, or how he’d always have to sit and count bills (a habit he’d picked up from his college years) or how much she had actually missed… No, not missed. Who could possibly miss him? She didn’t, anyway.
…Still. As she sat next to him in the car and watched him drive with their son softly singing along to the CD, or when he was ushering her to their seats and she was saying hello to her former mother-in-law as he stood there next to her, his hand still lingering on her waist for the briefest of moments, she couldn’t help but feel a creeping sense of nostalgia.
But there was no way, right? Not even when she leaned against him, half-asleep at the end of the day, as they sat on the bench together overlooking the view with his jacket on her shoulders and the faintest curve of her lips. Of course there wasn’t.
Why should there be?