“Why did you leave me, Mommy?” she cries, “Why did you leave me?”
The tears are flooding the connection, and my eyes start to water too. She sounds frantic.
“I’ll be right back,” I soothe, “don’t you remember what we talked about last night? I have to drop your sister off.”
She tries to respond, but her voice gets lost in the fear. I clutch the steering wheel tighter, willing my body to not turn the car around. The orthodontist is less than five minutes from the house and it will be all of a five-minute appointment to check a retainer. The high school is only another five minutes down the road. Round trip will only be twenty minutes, at most. Any other morning, my nearly eleven year old daughter would have slept hours longer. But not this morning. This morning she calls me in a panic, seconds after I have left the neighborhood.
“Come back,” she wails, “come back right now!”
I continue to talk softly, assure her she will be okay, but no amount of coaxing can convince her that a quiet house in the morning is stolen moments of peace. She refuses to go back to bed, snuggle under the warm blankets and share Eskimo kisses with the dog.
“Alright,” I sigh, turning the car around.
Pulling into the garage, she bolts out the back door, wrapped in her robe and slippers. Cheeks red. Eyes burning. For a moment she looks two again, crying for me in her crib, arms outstretched, begging to be picked up from too long a nap. But she is not two. She is almost eleven.
She is afraid of everything and nothing.
I am afraid her fear controls her.