Clara was having trouble getting to sleep tonight. Andrea thinks maybe it is because after dinner this evening I took the girls out for ice cream and then a long drive around the valley in the dance party car. But I’m blaming the biscuits we had with dinner. They were just really exciting biscuits.
After laying her down for the fourth time, Clara came creeping down the stairs and asked permission to sit quietly next to me in the chair until she was tired.
So, I was present while her brain passed from the sparkling biscuit induced sugar high into the dark wells of sleep. And I was able to hear the entire narration of the journey through those winding waters.
First, she was quite coherent. She began with a lucid analysis to the book “Goldilocks and the Three Bears”. I had read this book to her and Lydia during my first attempt to put the girls to bed. Clara was thoughtful sitting next to me in the chair, before suddenly pointing out that the bear’s breakfast would turn out perfectly okay. The Daddy bear had a very large bowl of porridge and it was still hot when the girl had tried it. So, he would still have plenty of warm porridge left over to share with his little boy that morning. I agreed. So she continued. Also, she claimed, everything else would have turned out just fine too if Goldilocks had simply set an alarm when she had gone to bed. Then she could have woken up from her short nap, had her Dad help her fix baby bear’s broken chair, and they could have left before the bear family even got back home.
She nodded to herself, satisfied that she had just solved every problem in the story. Maybe now that the world’s troubles were over her brain could settle down. Her nodding seemed to shake her eyelids loose. After this, she began to drift in and out of a dazed state. Her voice became muffled and slurred.
After a long pause, she finally said, “Be careful Dad, that you don’t cut the cord.”.
“What?” I turned to her.
“Do not cut the cord down there anymore” She lifted her arm towards the basement stairs, “or everything will happen again.”
“What do you mean?” I asked, slightly disturbed.
“Every time you cut the cord, it starts over. And when it starts over, something stops.” I stared at her. Her eyes half closed, she leaned on me but looked around the dimly lit living room. “First you lost the thing you had in the basement. Then the next time I was in the kitchen on the counter, and the light went away and when it started over it wasn’t there anymore. This time it could be the clock or the stairs could stop turning, or a computer, anything.” Having no clue as to what voodoo magic time warping cords she was referring to, I hoped she would stay awake for a few moments longer to explain herself, but it never happened. Long after I was sure that she had fallen sound asleep I lifted her out of the chair and started towards her bedroom. As I hefted her to my shoulder and started up the stairs she said faintly in my ear, “Please, don’t cut it, Daddy.”
I promised. But I have to wonder how many times I have promised this before. How many times have we had this same conversation, only to stumble into the basement that very night and accidentally start everything over again, with no memory of the cord, or what life was like before it was cut.