' L Y I N G '
September 4th, 1994, slightly before dawn, when the light was turning grey.  She woke up of her own volition as she always did, but this time got herself out of bed and into the clothes that had carefully ironed and laid out the night before.  It was a new outfit that she and her mother purchased last week.  A lilac tee-shirt and matching shorts made out of soft thick cotton, she put on her pair of new canvas sneakers, on top of a pair of socks that had lace around the cuff.  

She padded down the stairs while the house slept and checked on her backpack again, with her new, unwritten in notebooks, and pencil case that was green with a Lisa frank cartoon of a unicorn on the front.  Her colored pencils and pens and ruler all laid carefully inside.

Around 5am, she made herself a sandwich and placed it in a plastic baggie, and picked out an apple, and packed three homemade chocolate chip cookies that her mother had baked yesterday in a brown paper bag.  After that she boiled herself two eggs and buttered two pieces of dark, nearly burnt toast, and poured herself a glass of apple juice.  This was the breakfast that she had made for herself every day for the last 6 weeks.  Prior to this rotation, it had been 4 weeks of grilled cheddar cheese, served with ketchup and a glass of milk.  After eating, she put her dishes in the dishwasher and wiped the table.  At this point it was 530am and the rest of the house was still asleep.  She checked on her backpack again and moved it from the living room into the kitchen.  

She went back upstairs quietly and brushed her teeth, and washed her face, and combed her hair again, avoiding looking in the mirror at all costs.  She went into her room and made her bed, and folded her pajamas and placed them under her pillow, and arranged her curtains.  She carefully crept back down the stairwell, where she found her dog Sally, sleeping on her side by the front door.  She took her backpack and put it by the front door next to them and laid down and placed her head on Sally’s fluffy stomach.  Sally lifted her head and grunted, and then went back to sleep.

For the next 45 minutes she laid there, her head softly lifting and lowering with Sally’s breath until 710am, when her mother came down the front stairs and found her there.  “How long have you been up sweetie?”

“I don’t know.”

“Already up and dressed.  Well done honey. What would you like for lunch?”

“I already packed it.”  

Her mother smiled brightly and proudly, as she knew she would.  

“Such a good kid you are,” said her mother, “Two eggs for breakfast again?”

“I already ate breakfast.”

She watched her daughter, head still laid against the giant, golden dog’s stomach, hand stroking the soft, floppy ear.  “I wish your brother and sister were as easy as you are.”

She watched her mother walk back up the stairs to make the first of several wake-up calls to her brother and sister, glad that the tear that had formed was in the eye that laid against the dog.  Her mother has always said that it’s not the change itself that seemed to upset her so much, rather the anticipation of it.  

It was the first day of school.  She was 10 years old.  She was good today. She knew she had to be. She hoped it was good enough.  She hoped it was enough.
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