The day we brought Toby home from the hospital, we paused en route to the parking lot at a small reflecting pool outside the entrance. It was a gloomy winter afternoon, the sky a low ceiling within reach, a coat of silver left too long unpolished. I had to squint to isolate the thread-thin demarcation between stone and cloud and steel-colored water, balancing their disparities like one would separate egg whites in a bowl.
It was oddly peaceful. Like treading water.
Under the surface, the dull-green bottom of the pool was covered in pennies like thousands of copper-covered candies waiting to be unwrapped, layered like seconds in the hour. Someone (probably not me) fished through their purse for spare change, and each boy tossed in a coin of his own after being prompted to make a wish for their new baby brother. I noticed Nate: his mouth was moving in a silent frown even as he threw; when I asked him why, he said he was counting…weighing his chances against the number of wishes already littering the bottom of the pool, holding their respective places in line.
Literal, linear boy.
Later, there was more, however: to the frown, to the creased five-year-old brow. He told me as much from under the dark confines of his blankie that night, the confessional of his preschool-hood.
Mom, I didn’t wish for Toby.
Instead, I wished I could fly.