Violet and I have been doing this thing where she won't look at me. She looks over there at the lazing dogs. She looks up here at the books in their dust on the shelf. Coffee dripping spoon on the counter: she looks. Speck of afternoon sunshine on the floor: looks. Facebook: looks. Lunch meat: she looks. Paint on my shorts after work: looks. She looks at everything with wide-eyed curiosity until I try and sneak me into her eyes. Then she looks away. At a piece of popcorn on the couch. Or a stupid empty Diet Coke can on the coffee table.
It was beginning to hurt a bit. Deep down I knew it was nothing. I hadn't given much reason to not dig me. We haven't had time for that yet. And I sort of knew she was just taking in the world. I mean, I want her to do that. See things; love them.
But still. I started to wander into the bathroom with her in my arms: park us in front of the mirror.
"Hey, Peanut! Who's that in there? Who's that baby in the glass case?"
She'd look. Smile with half a heart. Then I'd watch my baby daughter in reflection as she moved her eyes to the toothpaste drip smeared at the side of the sink.
Finally, today, I'd had it. Fucking dough I'm spending on this kid. She is gonna look. At me. I turned her toward me on my lap on the couch. She looked/looked away. She started to wriggle around...trying to gain bigger perspective. Paradigm Shifter. World Turner. But, I nipped that in the bud. Grabbed her tiny ass and tilted her back toward me. She came along for the ride.
I leaned her back against my knees. Desperate times call for desperate measures. I gulped in wads of air and moved in whimsical slow motion. To her belly. I planted my lips right in the middle of her Phillies Phanatic onesie and started vibrating/buzzing her milk-gut with all the spazz in my soul.
Her lovely cackle filled the room and I could feel her arms and legs skitzing out in every direction at once. So I kept doing it. Laughter/flailing/tiny fists slamming into my head with pure joy.
Then. I pulled back. Looked at her. Her eyes.
She was staring. Her cheeks were pinned to her temples. She was elated. Ecstatic. Smiling at me and looking into my eyes like she was saying: do that more/now/always. I watched the ball soar 600 feet into the upper deck, three rows from the lights. I'd homered after a trillion K's. I nearly shit my pants with new flavors of excitement. I never wanted someone to look at me so badly before.
Of course: I do it some more. Lots . To be honest I only stop buzzing her tiny fat rolls after the thought occurs to me that I might end up giving her a fucking hickey or something. There's always something, ya know? Something to dribble hot piss all over the greatest ten minutes I've ever spent. So I stop.
We are two gunfighters in the middle of the only road through town. The Mexican sun beats down. Steamed winds slash a feral dog with whips of ancient dust. The pulverized bones of starved jackrabbits and lizards rise and fall at the mercy of each cruel passing gusts like lost ghosts in Hell.
Danger Violet's lip quivers.
A tumbleweed stops.
I blink without blinking.
A freckled boy drops his peppermint stick into a puddle of consumption spit.
Violet. Me. Our eyes locked.
She flinches and I move like angels in space, I pull my trigger, and I am buzz/kissing her belly one last time and she is giggling wildly and thrashing hysterically and it's all over in an instant. But she's laughing. And she's looking at me.
And I win.