. . . and they found a certain contentment, living more or less happily ever after, which is what “now” is while one’s in it.
– From Robert Coover’s “The Frog Prince”
I lay flat on the stained carpet, felled by a muscle spasm with diamond-tipped talons. My boy, stung pink with sun, is sprawled across a twist of sheets and pillows. He has been complaining about a stomach ache. “I just don’t feel good,” he keeps repeating while he looks at me with a mix of longing and irritation.
Beside us, Noodle mopes in her crate. All the pacing and fussing and nosing to spur one of us to action had the opposite effect, and now she sighs heavily and frequently while staring right at us.
A pillow props up my knees up and I grit my teeth against waves of pain as I read. We’ve just begun The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe, which we’ve inexplicably overlooked during the previous eight years of literary peregrination. Bug sips from a cup of seltzer water and kicks the blanket further down the bed.
Right in the middle of Edmund’s box of Turkish Delight, Bug turns and reaches across me. Scootching his hand under my shoulder, he inches me closer to his mattress. Then he leans in and plants a slow, soft kiss on my cheek. I see a smile ease loose across his face as he lets me go and flops back onto his bed.
“It’s all three of us right here,” he says. “Wouldn’t this be a perfect family portrait?”
I put my finger in the page, close the book against my chest, and look around.
My boy, the dog, a home, this night.
One story, one kiss.
Our perfect family.