A bedroom laid waste.
Bodies strewn everywhere.
Empty plates smeared with junk food residue.
Socks balled up in corners, strewn over backs of chairs.
A musk, a funk, an oppressive wafting of boy.
At this point there’s not even air in the room anymore—it’s just heavy breath and recirculated farts.
This is the epilogue of Theo’s first sleepover, and I have to say, mess aside, it’s nice to see the kiddo loosening up with his friends for once. It’s not like him at all, and I’m both proud and…what’s the proper word for when you suddenly realize your little boy is turning thirteen and socializing and diving head-first into adolescence? Nauseous?
I navigate past Ernest, who’s snoring loudly and spooning a bag of Chips Ahoy! on the floor. Past Jan, half into and half out of a threadbare sleeping bag. I glimpse Theo, passed out on his bed with that plush doll of his cradled in his arms, a literal plume of z’s escaping his nostrils.
Nope, not like him at all.
Smiling, I turn off the TV and grab the rest of the hummus. I pick up a few other food items, too—just the stuff that’ll go bad if left out overnight. Then I retreat back into the hallway, closing the bedroom door behind me, inhaling fresh air—
—and running into…Theo?
He waves at me in the semi-darkness. “Hey, Dad.”
“Uh…hey. Where were you just now?”
“Couldn’t sleep, so I went down to the kitchen to make some tea.” He holds up a mug of what smells like chamomile.
I glance at the bedroom door. “Wait—if you’re out here, then who’s in there?”