There’s a hole in the side of the hill birds fly out of. I like to go out there, into the field, and stand where the land rises into the hill, and watch as the birds fly back and forth.
I saw his mother getting out of her car. She kept fretting with her clothes. The baby was strapped to its seat, tightly. He kind of laughed then burped as I slid my hands beneath him. He laughed once, then lay quietly. I held him tightly against me.
I could feel him breathing. He yawned, then closed his eyes, as I set him, stomach down, onto the couch. His back was warm against my hand. I settled into the chair and watched him, and the sun rose and shone through the window.
He slept on the couch and I watched him wake up. I thought of a name for him, though I never called him by it, and I held him on the porch in the evening, before I set him down to sleep, and repeated it.
On afternoons, when he could walk, I took his hand and walked with him into the field toward the hill. We watched the birds. We listened as they flew into the sky or followed as they entered with their wings pressed tightly against them.
I heated water on the stove and watched steam rise as I poured cooler water into it. Then I lifted him and set him, feet first, into the tub. I passed a cloth across his back. I held his head in one hand, and poured water over his hair with the other. The beads caught on his lashes, and he blinked, and they rolled down his cheeks as he laughed.
One morning, he reached up and pulled at my shirt. When I looked down, he folded his hands beneath his arms, then pressed them against his body. They called and sang their songs for us. They dove and fell into the shadow of the hill. He jumped once, then stood quietly.
When I woke, the couch was empty. The door was open, and a wind came through the room, pushing against my hair. I could see the hill in the distance. As I got closer, the birds were singing, and I saw him standing there, arms outstretched, and what I had imagined as the birds calling to each other, was him singing and the birds answering, and coming to him from the hill.
I called out to him, but my voice was lost in it, and he didn’t hear me.