The door squeaks open. The dog gets to her feet, panting out her good morning greeting. The swooshes of her tail propel her down the hall. My boy stands barefoot on the bamboo floor rubbing his eyes. He ducks away from his furred friend’s eager tongue.
Bug’s hair is a chrysanthemum explosion. He waits for me to come and wrap my arms around his middle. When I do, I bend to bury my kiss in the tangled light of his head. We drag together down the hallway into my room where I snap open the bunched-up sheet and let it flutter onto the bed.
“Where is the blanket?”
The quilt’s green piping frayed, fine fine edges are in a heap on the floor. I am not treating my great-grandmother’s creation with appropriate care to make it last. I prefer it around me rather than on a wall. I pick it up and lay it across the open sheet. Bug grins and wiggles down under it.
“I’m cold,” he says. “I’m always so cold in the morning.” He pulls the sea of thinning pastel hexagons up under his chin.
“It’s almost fall,” I say. “Summer is on its way out.”
He rolls over and curls fetal, a potato bug under the covers. “When does the groundhog come out to see his egg?”
I climb into bed next to him and tuck him into my arms. Then he giggles. “I mean his shadow.”
“That’s when winter becomes spring.”
Bug sighs and twists over. My hand follows his trajectory as he holds it on his belly. My other hand traces fingernails over his back, feeling the snaking shiver of his spine. The dog pants into the room and lays with a heavy breath in the corner. Bug makes a noise much like hers, somewhere between a sigh and a grunt. I stop. He presses back into my hand.
“Do it more, Mommy. Scratch my back.”
We face the window together. I let my fingers find his itches. Morning haze eases through the screen carrying the rumble of traffic and the song of a single bird. One crepe myrtle still has a shock of fuscia confetti clinging to its topmost branches. A neighboring maple sheds its leaves, scattering a bronze carpet across the September grass.