Annie loves to watch him sleep, her beautiful angel boy. Awake, Adam is constant motion inside and outside his head. He flits from thought to thought and thing to thing, his mind racing like a hummingbird’s wings.
She is bone-weary by this time of night, worn out from trying to catch his thoughts, and from steering him through the minutiae of another day. As she pulls the covers over his little boy shoulders, and smiles at the angel-face sleeping so peacefully, she finds herself wondering what populates his dreams.
She whispers thanks to Sophie, the adoring dachshund at the foot of his bed. She leaves the door open to allow a slice of light from the hallway to comfort him if he wakes in the night, and finally, in her sanctuary down the hall, she lies down too. Annie is asleep before the bed has had a chance to warm beneath her exhaustion.
She sees Adam in the distance, past the pine grove; sitting in the bleachers at the high school football field, empty now except for him and the moonlight. He hears her approach, and looks up. Annie hardly recognizes him. His body is never this still, except for when he is sleeping. She sits down beside him.
There is a book in his lap. She reaches for it, and he opens it for her. It is filled with pictures that are slowly moving: Nan; macaroni necklaces; the blue pool at Cindy’s house; Dakota, the golden puppy; jumping jacks. When she looks closely, she sees him in there too: in the blades of grass; in the oil-streaked puddle; in the cracks in the sidewalk; in the tuna sandwich. He is waving, smiling. It is hard for him to turn the pages. He likes them all equally well.
Adam says to her, “This is my book. I am the only one who can read the whole story. I can show you parts of it, but I can’t take you inside with me. I love this book. It is being written as I read it. You give me the pages.”
He looks up and says, “I am glad you could meet me here. I have been wanting to tell you this: It is harder to be my mom than it is to be me. Please know that I am ok.” He looks toward the pines and says, “I have to go now.”
A car alarm goes off down the street, and Annie awakens. For a moment, she isn’t sure where she is. She gets up and walks down the hallway to Adam’s room. She sees that he has kicked off his covers, and as she pulls the sheet up over his feet, she sees that they are covered with pine needles.