It’s still dark and the morning air is nippy. I step on the loose sleeper step, wood on wood; do not want the echo to wake the others sleeping in the rooms below. I push the door into the soft, suedy curtain.
“Good morning My Angel,” I say, closing the door behind me. I creak across the wooden floor.
“Uh,” Kayla moans.
The room is cold. She keeps the window next to her open behind the curtains. I pull back her covers, push her over and climb into the three-quarter bed next to her. Warm. She’s warm, relaxed, heavy in sleep. I put my arm around her and spoon into her. She needs a shower to wash away the odours of young womanhood. I wonder if these smells attract young males, but are washed away in the shower every day. I’m aware of my boobs pressing into her and wonder if it’s inappropriate to lie like this with my daughter.
“Okay My Girl. Time to get up,” I say.
“Sleep,” she says.
“Kielie, kielie, kielie,” I say, practicing the Afrikaans she needs to learn, tickling her tummy, under her arms.
She wriggles. “Uh-uh,” she says.
I hug her again. My heart feels such love. I force myself up and pull the covers off her and off the bed so she can’t pull them back.
“Time to get up,” I say.
“Uhh,” she moans.
I go around to the other side of the bed and pull her up, heavy and floppy.
“No, Mommy,” she says.
She’s taller than me and I can’t hold her weight for long. I kiss her cheek, smelling her morning breath as she leans into me. I let her go and she falls onto her pink, flower-shaped carpet. I look at her, beautiful and scary, a creature rare, yet familiar.
“Don’t stay there for too long,” I say, and leave to make her lunch.