Joey glanced over his mother's shoulder as she carried him up the stairs. It was nap time, but today was different. Every twenty minutes, the phone rang.
Then there was the doorbell, the florist standing at the front door with a clear glass vase full of handpicked violets. When he saw the flowers, his face lit up. But not his mother's. Instead, she went into the kitchen as his Auntie May began to read him a story.
Joey listened to the garbage disposal churn in the next room. His mother returned with the empty vase, bent down, opened a cabinet, and placed it inside.
"It's time for his nap."
May stood up and reached for Joey's hand.
"I think I can handle putting my own kid to bed," his mother snapped, snatching Joey into her arms.
Joey didn't need to be carried. He was too old to be held, but he knew better than to wiggle out of his mother's arms.
"I was just trying to help," May said.
"Life must go on. In fact... I could use some space," his mother said. She grabbed May's coat from the hall closet and threw it at the front door.
May's face reddened. She fixed her skirt, walked up to Joey, kissed him on the forehead, then headed for the door. She bent over, picked up her coat, and stood with her back to them.
"I love you, sis. I know... I know this was sudden and tragic, but you've got to deal with it."
May stood there for a minute, her shoulders drooping with the passage of time, but, with no reply, she left.
His mother carried him up the stairs as he looked at the cabinet.
Today was his mother's birthday. His father always had handpicked flowers delivered on her birthday.
Today was also his father's funeral, whatever that meant, but Joey wasn't going, and apparently neither was his mother.
He wondered if his father would be there either or, if at least, he'd be home in time for cake.