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On Backstory: Preschool

Yesterday I didn’t show up to work until after lunch. I was really dragging, too. I wandered down the row between offices and cubicles, waving a half-hearted response to my coworkers’ enthusiastic greetings.

I made my way to my desk, fell into my chair, and then started reading office email. It wasn’t terribly interesting. I’ve got a tedious training course coming up in a couple weeks. The International Machinists’ Union thinks I should consider joining up. And the Secretary of Transportation assures me this furlough nonsense is going to be cleared up any day now.

I spent a few minutes checking things off and deleting them, then looked up when someone started walking by my cubicle. My section head nodded a quick greeting to me, flashed a smile…and then stopped and looked at me with a puzzled expression.

“What are you doing here so late?”

The most honest answer would’ve been, “Falling asleep,” but I kept that to myself. I was exhausted, though. My Sunday had been a busy one, and it ran right on into my Monday with reckless disregard for my productivity.

See…Carlos and Julie were in town this weekend. They came down from Topeka, and whenever they do that we all end up getting way too little sleep because we want to make the absolute most of the time we’ve got together. Never fails.

We did a little bit of that last Friday night, when we went downtown with Courtney following her covershoot for Shadows after Midnight. That kept us out until after midnight.

But Sunday we got together again. We met up for lunch at P. F. Chang’s, then spent the afternoon with Sean Sanders, Consortium Programmer, while he showed off the tireless work he’s been doing to get their photography website up and running.

Then when that was done we headed downtown again, this time with the lovely Karen Thrall, the model we use for Katie on my Ghost Targets covers. We headed to an almost-deserted parking garage downtown, picked a corner with some construction junk left lying around, and proceeded to make an utterly badass cover photo.

Our shoot was only slightly inconvenienced by the late arrival of some surly security guards, but we pointed Karen at them and they kinda forgot what they were supposed to be doing. We got out of there with some excellent photos, and a pretty fun story to boot.

Then we came back to the house and Julie and Courtney went off for some girl talk while Carlos and I sat around and talked business. And dreams. And changing the world. And advanced, next-generation green-screen software to bring the indie movie industry up to speed with Kindle publishing.

Believe it or not, that conversation kept me up past two in the morning on a school night. Monday the Velezes were heading home, so it was only reluctantly that they finally took their leave, and I went into my bedroom to crash for a few hours.

But none of that is why I showed up late to work yesterday. I fell into my bed at 2:30, and I was up again at 7:00, because I had an important appointment.

I took my little girl to her first day at school.

We got there a little bit early, and we stayed a little bit late. She was scared. She wrapped her arms around me, while all the other kids in her class played with blocks or checked out books or colored princesses.

She shook her head whenever I tried to talk to her and answered me in the tiniest little whisper I’ve ever heard. Her eyes were wide and shiny, her lip was trembling, and she couldn’t even find her voice to say how scared she was.

Leaving her there was one of the hardest things I’ve ever done. Her brilliant teacher came over with a kind word and a question about her pretty pink boots, and got her distracted so I could slip away. But I spent the whole rest of my morning worrying and missing her.

So when I finally got to work, when my boss asked me what I was doing in so late, I just shrugged one shoulder and said, “Rough morning.”

He chuckled, and nodded, and said, “I’ve had a few of those. Good weekend, huh?”

Yeah. Great weekend with friends, and a rough Monday morning after. I’ve had a few of those myself, but never one like this.

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