“Alexa, TV off,” Xander said to the set.
The blue trance of light blinked out. Cracking his neck, Xander smothered a yawn. Mimi yawned loudly, stretched like a cat, and rolled into the warmth of her husband’s side. He stretched out his right arm to gather her closer. They were both too tired to get up and go to bed. Xander laid his cheek on the top of her messy bun of hair. She smelled of coconut conditioner and tonight’s pork chops. He inhaled deeply ready to be lost in the comfort of their old sofa and her softness.
“Somebody has to pick up all these toys,” Mimi said, waving a sleep-heavy arm at the collection of board books and pink bracelets, of stuffed animals and baby dolls scattered across the living room rug.
Without opening his eyes, Xander replied, “Somebody better get his ass in gear ‘cause I ain’t doing it.”
Mimi play-slapped his chest. Xander rolled himself over onto Mimi flattening his wife into the cushions. She raised an eyebrow. Pressing her hands against Xander’s chest, Mimi surrendered to his weight. Xander dipped his head to her lips. Suddenly a thunder of children’s footsteps ran overhead. The couple groaned.
“That girl is going to crack the plaster and lathe,” Mimi said.
Another volley of the sounds of small running feet from one end of the upstairs hallways to the end.
“Bedtime, pumpkin.” Lifting up, Xander turned to look towards the ceiling beneath Flora’s bedroom on the second floor.
“I know Daddy,” Flora called back from upstairs.
Xander wiggled between Mimi’s legs finding their position where her small body tucked perfectly into his larger frame. They shared a smile. The running began again this time from Flora’s bedroom to the upstairs bathroom. The creaking sound of the bathroom door opening and closing tripped down their old Victorian’s spiral staircase.
“Somebody better put that kid to bed,” Xander said before nipping at Mimi’s chin.
“Somebody better snap to it ‘cause I’m dead dog tired.” Mimi kissed him lightly and sucking at his lower lip.
The old five panel bathroom door creaked open and shut again. Back and forth the playful patter of a small child’s bare feet splashed over them..
“Don’t make me come up there.” Xander used his best angry daddy voice. The running stopped.
“Madam could please explain why your child cannot, will not, and has never ever slept. How is that possible? Government conspiracy? Witchcraft? It shows some shoddy workmanship if I must say.”
Xander took on a posh Austrian psychiatrist accent. Overhead the footsteps ran back to the bathroom. Xander sagged on to her in defeat.
Mimi tickled him.
“Oh so when Florrie won’t sleep she’s mine and when she’s an angel she’s yours.” The footsteps ran back to Florrie’s bedroom.
Xander fended off the ticklish attack. “Natch, now answer the inquiry.” He pinned her hands over her head.
“Well, maybe it’s genetics. When I was Florrie’s age my mom said I had a hard time sleeping. I don’t remember but I guess I used to wake everyone up at three in the morning. I would sing funny made-up songs in the middle of the night to my imaginary friend. She lived in my mirror, I think. My brothers still tease me about my late night serenades,”Mimi said.
“Granted your singing is terrible. It’s no wonder your—“ Xander stopped as their wrestling intensified. He let her hold his hands behind his back. Mimi scrunched her face diving deeper into memory.
“I do remember Nonna burning herbs, something about the thin place where worlds touch or something. My grandma, you know, was kind of Old World.” Mimi inhaled sharply as Xander kissed up the side of her throat.
“Does Old World mean terrifying battle axe?” Xander said in the sweet hollow of her neck.
“Mommy could you burn Herb because my mirror friend won’t let me sleep,” Flora said.
Xander and Mimi jumped. Standing in front of the sofa in a unicorn onesie with her favorite blanket stood Flora. Another thunder of running footfalls sounded over head. With wide eyes, all three stared up at the ceiling. A girlish laugh floated down the stairs over the sound of the pitter-pat of a small child’s bare feet against the hallway hardwood floor.
The Thin Place
“Alexa, TV off,” Xander said to the set.