A small hiccup rings in my ear while I pull his cap a little lower. A sudden change of wind whips his blanket and I tuck it securely into his chest. My little burrito.
I look past the burrito and beckon for the three year old to follow me.
“No Mama. Not ready.”
Street lights flicker on as the sky blackens unexpectedly. I turn the burrito’s face towards my shoulder, protecting him from a chill in the air.
“Now, a storm’s coming.”
“No go yet.” The toddle scurries up the slide, sits at the top, and waves. He slides down, then rushes back to the top.
The aroma of sauteed onions and garlic coming from the house next door are now covered up by the smell of an oncoming storm.
“It’s starting to rain.”
“No go Mama.” He climbs to the top again.
He slides. I grab his hand and start to walk towards our house on the other side of the cul-de-sac, 80 yards away.
“No go.” He yanks his hand away and runs back towards the slide.
“Yes.” I catch him and hold on tighter. A drop of rain lands on the tip of my nose. I wipe it away with my shoulder.
He kicks. “No!”
I walk swiftly. He refuses to move his feet. I drag him. He screams.
The rain is hard and heavy. The wind swirls it around. It stings my skin. 70 yards to go.
I snatch the tot by his arm and hoist him onto my hip. He grabs my hair.
“Let go!” I speak through gritted teeth.
He wiggles and pulls.
The branches of a nearby tree sway to and fro. My burrito hiccups.
“Let. Go!” I see stars of pain.
Lighning breaches the sky with a single crack. Thunder follows in one, two, three seconds.
The tyrant takes a second fistful of hair. 50 yards.
“Stop it.” I squeeze him tightly. He kicks at the air around my hip.
40 yards. He pulls harder, screams louder.
30 yards. Hiccup.
I see our house which sits in the crux of the street. It matches the ones to the left and to the right. Red tiled roof, taupe stucco, brick walkway. A tricycle topples over. The peddles roll in the wind.
20 yards. He pulls. My face distorts as I bear down to curb the throbbing of my scalp. He twists his hand. The burn is excruciating; his cheek rubs my nose so I bite. Gently. He doesn’t let go. I bite harder.
10 yards. The screaming stops. His hands let go of my hair.
I lean forward to open the door. My burrito hiccups.