My older daughter Emma is sitting on the couch intently watching the television. It's a half hour or so before I have to drive her and her sister over to the bus stop to wait. My younger daughter Lily is orbiting her, also watching the television. I don't remember what show it was, but something they both watch. (Translation: anything ON the television will entrance Emma, who will stare open-mouthed without blinking for periods of time that seem physically impossible, while Lily will only watch about a dozen or so different programs, so it was one of the dozen or so.) I am in the kitchen making coffee for the next day so we don't have to do it at night. I finish up, rinsing off my hands before drying them on a towel and joining the two kids in the family room. Lily has climbed the couch and is sitting next to her sister. She has draped one leg over her sister's leg. The other leg she kicks back and forth over the edge idly. She is intent upon the screen. This is rare, this closeness. It is virtually never found when sought. It is on Lily's terms or not at all; it is the proverbial pearl beyond price. I glance up at Emma, seemingly still staring heedless and in thrall to "Victorious" or "Good Luck Charlie" and say, "Hey Em, what uh...what's going on over there?" I gesture at Lily's form draped casually over her. Emma does not glance up, does not move a muscle, and quietly says simply, "Shhhh." There is no disrespect, only the unspoken warning, "Please do not scare away the unicorn." I know this feeling so well. If I breathe, if I shift, if I scratch an itch, this tender, tenuous butterfly of familial intimacy will start and flutter away, and who knows when it will light once more. I make no sudden moves but smoothly reach into my pocket to extract my phone, stabbing the camera app into life. I slowly raise the phone and begin taking pictures. She won't pose, this fey little elf, so cameras must be drawn quickly and pictures fired like bullets from an AK-47. Capturing images of her as she snuggles often produces results akin to other captured cryptids, blurred and out of focus, a unicorn in flight, Bigfoot stomping away through the forest, Nessie surfacing...too quick for focus. I get Emma's attention and call to Lily, attempting to get smiles from both of them. I take a few dozen. Of those maybe three or four are "decent". [caption id="attachment_2245" align="aligncenter" width="131"] Set shutter speed to Warp 1[/caption] Lily's big sister is the primary recipient of this sort of snuggling, and Emma understands the gift. I tell her again anyway, wanting to reinforce how special she is, how special the attention is. But all of us treasure the rare hugs, clutched fingers, or neck clings. All of us hold our breath, still our movements, don't...make...a sound... And then, just as quickly it's over, and Lily is back on the floor, orbiting, her fingers fidgeting, still happy, but happy in space, a whirling dervish once more. We are left with the happy memory, perhaps a captured photo, and a warm feeling of gratitude that the unexpected touch from the unicorn's horn, no matter how brief, is always magical, always a blessing. [caption id="attachment_2251" align="aligncenter" width="300"] Happy Hugs[/caption]
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