I was late getting home. Our eldest was under a blanket, glowering and saturnine, watching My Little Pony. Her mother had just tried unsuccessfully to interest her in a late supper. The little girl was in the danger zone, past bedtime on a school night. She could no longer tolerate contradiction of her whimsies, growing in erraticism with every minute, any opposition sent her into meltdown.
I lifted her up in my arms, escorted her up the stairs. She said she wanted a bath, but I refused, the day was over, I said.
Baaath, baaath, baaath, baaath, she intoned endlessly with tears on her face. It was like a delirious dirge.
-Please stop saying bath.
Eventually a brush of the teeth and a book teleported her back to civilisation. She was still fighting the inevitable except now without being socially offensive.
-Shall I say goodnight and go now?
-No I want you to stay
-Because I like you.
She shuffled awkwardly the pages of a pocket book of puzzles and colouring opportunities that she had taken from her bedside table.
-You look at all the pages. Go on. All the pages.
Her speech was slurring.
-What do you mean?
-All the pages. … Let’s just close our eyes.
-You have brown eyes. Darker than mine. Daddy’s are green brown.
She fixed on a spot on my chin.
-You got glitter. You want the glitter?
-Er no…. Daddy loves you, my darling.
Eyes closed, deep breathing. She was gone.
-Daddy loves you very much. So much.
Her smooth, delicate, silent face. When she finally falls asleep each night, it is like part of the world has died.