When they got to Nathan’s first floor condo, he knew the door would be locked so he went in through the door and brought Mya with him. “I didn’t know we could do that.” Mya said when they were inside.
“We did it at the theater.” Nathan pointed out. How could she not have noticed?
Mya looked down. “I had other things on my mind at the time.” She answered his unasked question and then ran a finger through the dust on the little table by the door. “Nice mess.” She turned her little nose up.
“Welcome to my pad,” Nathan said. He brought her into the kitchen where he turned on the light.
“Not too bad.” She looked around the room. “I could live here.”
“No.” Nathan shook his head and she looked upset for a second to think that he might exclude her from some part of his life. “You deserve better.” He finished his thought and she smiled. Then she turned serious and took his hands and made him sit down beside her. She worried his hands a little as she spoke.
“I’ve been thinking about what you said earlier, you know, about the way this world has become. I don’t want to be like that so I have to say this.” She had to clear her throat and Nathan thought it sounded so cute. “I’m sorry. I was wrong.”
“No, no.” Nathan started, but Mya slapped his hand softly.
“Quiet. Stop treating me like a child. Let me finish.”
“You’re right. I’m sorry. Go on.”
Mya cleared her throat again and paused. She almost laughed when she saw the smile on Nathan’s face. She cleared her throat in an exaggerated way and they both laughed before she lowered her eyes and began to worry his hands again. “Anyway.” She used his word and said it with the same inflection he used. It almost got them laughing again. “Anyway, I’m sorry. I shouldn’t have kissed you and I shouldn’t have asked you to be my boyfriend. Maybe I’m not old enough for that yet.” She was being more than gracious. She knew she was old enough on the inside, and he knew it, too. She looked up at him because she seemed to be finished and she was only waiting for him to respond.
“First of all, you have no need to apologize for the kiss.” He thought about it and was as careful as he could be in how he described it. “It was very nice and I kissed you too, you know.” Mya looked down. Clearly she thought the kiss was more than just very nice. “And as far as being old enough, I know you are.”
“Now you let me finish,” he said, and she quieted.
“I’ve been watching you very closely, and I have seen the changes you have gone through. Somehow, you have been growing up and maturing on the inside faster than possible for a living person, but I know it is real. I have seen how you have responded to people and situations, and I know the difference between a child and a teen and an adult. In fact, I would say you are an adult now, already. You are absolutely no seven year old trapped in a grown up body. If anything, I was thinking your outside body has just been adjusting to keep up with your age on the inside. You said you did not want to be a child forever, well now you certainly won’t be.” His eyes looked her up and down. He was a man, and far younger than he used to be so he could not help it, but Mya caught the look and leaned forward to expose herself just so and spoke in a more husky voice.
“So, do you like what you see?”
She smiled and joked again, but Nathan growled, stood straight up and turned toward the sink to turn his back on her. “Don’t do that.” He spoke sharply, and she responded with a little anger, or perhaps some frustration.
“And what about you? You were nothing but a pot bellied bag of bones. Your arms were so spindly I was afraid at first if I squeezed too hard the bones would just snap in two. But now look at you. You can’t be more than thirty, and you have real arms and muscles and a flat belly and a chest and… and I better not say anymore. But you know what I mean. You have shed far more years than I have gained. Where have they gone? You’re not old enough to be my father anymore, maybe not even if I was still seven.”
“That isn’t the point.” Nathan turned toward her still angry, but he softened the instant he saw her and he realized that she was genuinely struggling with all of this. She knew what she was feeling, but she needed to know what he was feeling. She needed to understand, and he could tell by the look in her big brown eyes that she would never force herself on him if he honestly felt that it simply was not right.
He spoke with all the tenderness that was in him and explained things once again as well as he could to this little girl. “I remember being eighty-four. It is a bit like a dream or maybe a story I read once, but I remember working all those years, and all the bad times and good, though maybe not so many bad, I think. Still, even if it does not exactly feel like me anymore, I know it was me. And you. I remember you as a frightened little rabbit, just seven years old with a bad foot and a limp, begging for a ride home so you and your mother could visit your grandmother who was dying. I remember you that way like it was yesterday, because it was just yesterday. Do you know what they call old men who take liberties, like do things with seven year old girls? I’m sorry, I just can’t.”
“But you just said I am far from seven, and you are becoming a very attractive young man. Isn’t there somewhere we can meet in the middle?”
“No. Stop it. Not now, not tonight. I don’t know.” He turned again to face the sink. “It is just how I think of you and me, fool that I am. I’m sorry.”
Mya started to cry, and after a moment, Nathan sat down beside her and held her. He could do that much. He never wanted to hurt her. It was breaking his heart to even think that he was hurting her. But what could he honestly do? She was weeping, holding on to him for dear life and wracked with tears, and he was crying right along with her.
At last, as always happens, the tears subsided for a bit and Nathan helped her to her feet. He practically carried her to the guest room where he pulled down the covers. “I think it would be best if you slept here tonight.” He said as he glanced at the clock. “It is almost eleven.” He said. “I don’t know about you but it is way past my bedtime.” Mya laughed once through her teary eyes. Of course it was way past her bedtime too.
“Mother would be very upset to know I stayed up this late.”
“Mine too,” Nathan agreed and then he explained before Mya could ask. “My daughter, Lisa. She treats me more like she is my mother than my mother ever did.” He sat Mya on the bed. “And I am her wayward son,” he added with a touch of his finger to her little nose. That made Mya smile, but it also caused her hand to go up and caress his cheek. She grinned, almost appeared happy again as she brushed his unruly hair behind his ear. “Now go to sleep,” he said and backed up to the doorway. “You think about it,” he said. “And pray about it,” he added. “And I promise I will do the same. Maybe in the morning we will be able to figure this out.”
Mya nodded. “Good night.”
“Good night,” he said and turned toward his room.
“Good night.” He heard Mya again, but he dared not answer her again.
Mya got out of her gown, not wanting to wrinkle it. She had already decided to sleep without it but was kind enough to wait until Nathan left before she got undressed. She found, then, that she could crawl under the covers, something she was not sure she could do, and she snuggled under the sheets and expected to get a good sleep.
Nathan also got undressed, but it was because he felt he had worn the same suit for two days and that was long enough. He left his boxers on and crawled into bed. He was confused. He was more than confused. He was madly in love with the girl and he knew it. She was the most beautiful creature in his eyes that he had ever seen, and he lived a long time and saw a lot. What was his problem? God, what is my problem? He almost said that out loud as he closed his eyes for sleep. Then he had a thought, and apparently Mya had the same thought at the same time. The angel said they had two times a time between and a half time. He translated that as a half a day, two nights and one day between They had a half a day on the day of the accident, and then last night and the day. What if this was their last night on this earth? What if they were taken up in their sleep? What if they were separated and never got to see each other again? He was about to rise when he heard Mya at the door. She came over quietly and pulled up the covers, and then she crawled in and pulled up against him. She held on and laid her head in the crook of his shoulder. His arm went around her of its own volition. He could not help that, but he honestly thought it was best if he pretended to be asleep. All he knew was if he was going to be taken anywhere in the night he was going to do everything he could to take her with him, and she felt the same.