That was his name. George. I don’t know anything else about him; how long he’d been with UPS, if he liked the brown shorts, none of those questions would ever be answered.
It’d been a nice enough morning but when the clock struck 12:30 I was in no way ready to go down for an afternoon nap. So I fought.
“NO SLEEP NO SLEEP NO SLEEP!” I screamed, my face a deep crimson as she struggled to pour and warm a sippy cup full of frothing milk while my limbs flailed in her arms. My eyes were swollen slits as I cried, “I NO TIRED!!” I could barely keep them open. Tears streamed down my face as mommy carried me down the hall toward my room. With each step I fought harder and harder. Screamed louder and louder.
My legs kicked with every ounce of strength they had in them. Part of me knew that sleep was inevitable but the cold facts changed nothing as I transformed into a whirling dervish of emotional diarrhea.
Looking down I noticed that I was wearing mismatched pajamas. It was as if a room full of gas connected with a spark. I exploded. My socks didn’t feel right. Every vein in my body swelled with adrenaline and the word, “NO” reverberated in the chambers of my heart.
Before I knew what as happening, I was in my bed. By this time my cry was reduced to a faint whine. The familiar waves of slumber lapped at my feet, beckoning me to be drawn out to their mysterious seas. My eyes fluttered open to see mother staring down at me, wiping the athlete’s sweat from my brow. With my last gust of strength I made a request, “Kiss.”Her soft lips puckered against my warm forehead. Although I felt uneasy about being parted from her, the weight of my eyelids overpowered my will and I floated into the abyss.
I awoke with a start not knowing where or who I was. All I could hear was the sound that resembled a hammer against our front door.
RAP RAP RAP. RAP RAP RAP. RAPRAPRAPRAP
Panic. My body went rigid as my still-sleeping mind rushed to process what imminent danger must be coming for me. Then mommy’s foosteps running lightly to the door. I heard it creak open and her say breathlessly, “Shhh, please. My baby is sleeping.”
As soon as her voice met my ears I burst into relieved tears. My flesh was exhausted but my mind was in a state of limbo. I needed her.
“Please sign here ma’am!” said the man in a booming outside voice.
My cries broke through the walls.
“Look. What. You. Did.” I heard her say in a tone I’d never heard before. It alarmed me.
“Ma’am, can you please sign here? I need to go.”
There was silence.
“Yes, just come inside. You’re letting a draft in. Stand right there. Next to the basement door.”
I heard the man’s heavy steps and prayed for him to run. Her voice was too calm. Too calm.
“I really must be on my wa-” and with that I heard him take a shocked gasp before the sound of his weighted body tumbled down our basement steps. After the final thud, there was nothing except the slow click of the door shutting.
I waited for something. Anything. I saw a shadow on my ceiling and there was mother’s beautiful face smiling down at me.
“Are you all done sleeping, honey?”
I nodded .”Up mama.”
She scooped me into her arms and before setting me down on the living room floor amongst miniature trains and cars, gave me a new toy to play with. A plastic name tag with the pin removed. Brown and white letters spelled out, “George.”