We finish two books and scootch down until we flop on the pillow. She yanks my arm around her, positioning it just so. She sleeps in a full-size bed, but one pillow, the one against the wall, is in use by a purple lion, a purple clown fish, two purple and one fuchsia dogs, Purple Girl, Baby Doll, the Girls' purple dotted blanket, and her purple purse filled with books; and also I am told we're saving space for Carler, the compounded man-boy formed from the flesh of Carlton and Brother (he's not made, she reminds me); so we share the other pillow together, she next to her crowded queendom and me with my bottom branded by the mesh lining of the bed rail. We get comfy but she sits up and tugs at me, asking me in the dark to verify that her purple anteater is in position. We check, we scootch, she tugs. In preparing a fine meal, when you lay your meat on a hot grill you are always supposed to lay it down at an angle so you can get those lovely diagonal scorch marks, and if you want to cross-hatch, you lift it carefully halfway through cooking and rotate its angle. So it is with my butt and the mesh of the bed rail. My bicep fills the space under her neck between her shoulder and her head and as soon as we're in formation she commences fake-snoring from the back of her throat so enthusiastically that the sonic vibrations tickle my joints. Without warning, she sits back up, and careens down again, her bowling ball of a head crashing into the softest, most vulnerable and unclenched part of my stomach. From this perch she feels for my hand, brings it to her face, and kisses the palm. You know what, Mama? I love you very much. And I'm ready for you to go away now.