February 15, 2018

My mother and I talk at the kitchen table. Or rather, I sit at the table while she stirs the chicken noodle soup. My youngest brother, James, jumps in his bouncer, chewing at the TV remote. His giggles and gurgles and huffs and puffs fill my family’s ears with a familiar music. At eight months old, he cradles us all. Momma, in all of her worn beauty, animatedly baby talks him in the middle of her sentences. The stove light illuminates her thinning brows, and the crows feet at the sides of her eyes. She never looked better.

The microwave clock gives the time in green, square numbers. Six-Twenty-Two. I can hear the living room door open with a push of air, and the heavy footfalls tell me that Dad must be responsible. His six-foot-something height catches our attention in the doorway. His overgrown beard and oil-stained hands vibrate our chests with a feeling of comfort. He comes into the kitchen in an unapologetic manner, and my mom fusses about the dirt he trails in. He ignores her, or maybe he looks at her a certain way, and bends down to scoop up James. My brother squeals and gives us a three-toothed smile before burying his head in my father's chest, and bashfully scratching at the pockets of Dad’s jacket. Momma looks at them with a face of pure happiness, and she looks even more beautiful than before.

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