The sound of feet on the smooth concrete of the garage floor; pat, pat, pat, pat, pat-pat, pat-pat, pat, pat. He rounds the corner of a fire truck and smiles at me.
He stands on tippy-toes and pushes himself up onto the fire truck, legs dangling and kicking as he uses all of his strength. He climbs up into the seat and yells, “I can buckle myself, Mommy!” Silence falls on my ears as he sits still for a moment, for a lifetime it seems. Rustling sounds let me know he’s moving again, and suddenly he’s peeking up and out the window. “I see you!” Laughter echoes off the ceiling of the fire department garage, raining down on me as I sit and soak it up.
He climbs down the same way he climbed up, toes extended and searching for that first touch of solid ground. As soon as he finds it, he’s off running down the length of the truck. Away from me. His left hand follows the curves of the trucks as he runs on by, up and over the scoops of the wheel wells and all the way around the bumper until he disappears. I lean down and watch his feet coming down the other side of the truck when he comes back around the front, hand still tracing the shape of the truck, fingers squeaking on the clean surface.
He stops and stares at his reflection in the chrome on the front of the truck; a smile, a funny face, and then, of course, more laughter. He looks at me. I stare at him. I don’t think I smile; I just stare. He breaks into the grin that is his and his alone; no matter how much he looks like his daddy, his smile is his very own.
“I love you, Mommy.”
More laughter, and then he was off and running, feet on the smooth concrete. I watched him go.
“I love you too, Booey,” I whisper; my voice echoes not through the garage but through my soul.