The Morning Nudge Out of Bed

Sometimes -- rarely -- I would wake before my father, but almost always it was the clinking of his spoon against the enamel coffee cup that opened my eyes to morning. I would lie very still then, imagining his wrist above the cup and holding fast to that image as if knowing exactly how it looked meant something important.

In fact, the sound of his spoon signaled the beginning of my wait, which was not unpleasant. I had then a fascination with light, motes of dust in light, and the edges that light cut on my walls.

Eventually, if convinced my father was still at the table, staring into his thoughts, I might quietly walk to the window to check the pond, watch carp rise or wasps alight on the water.

I would cross the room to the other window, to see that all was well at my rabbit cage, which was really a small mammal apartment, with cat brothers sleeping on top, ''married'' rabbits inside, and our dog underneath.

Then I would go back to bed, and wait.

Now and then I would fall back to sleep. When that happened, my father actually did wake me by coming to my door. Almost always, however, I was only pretending, watching him through slits.

''Bub,'' he would say softly.

And wait.

''Bub. Bubble head.''

Wait.

''Time to get up.''

I might groan just the tiniest bit. A complaint. No way would I open my eyes.

''Up,'' he'd say.

Not a chance.

He'd come into the room, walking without much sound, moving air, crossing the light shafts from the window to stand beside the bed.

''Hey you. With the bubble head.''

Then I'd choose either to remain absolutely still or to twist a little in a pitiful way, making some small plaintive sound again.

Either way, he'd laugh. By then he'd be close enough that I could smell the scent of Electra Shave. With my eyes pinched shut, I would feel his hand moving to my face. He would make a ''tsking'' sound, a sort of whispering reprimand every bit as phony as my pretense of sleep:

''Tsk, tsk, wake up.'' Then his hand would settle first on my hair, shifting across my forehead to pause two fingers on each of my eyelids.

At last, he would lift his fingers so I could open my eyes. We would look at each other, examining gold flecks about the iris, smiling, laughing sometimes, beginning the day here.

Of course, that was the idea all along.

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