an open book

“I’m tired of being tired,” said the child in the kitchen doorway, early morning hair wild around her face, heavy-set lines defining the space beneath her eyes. Her mother looked up from where she sat at the table in the dim light, an open book in her lap, gentle clouds of steam spilling from her coffee. She slid the mug towards her daughter with an exhausted smile. “Want some?”

The girl sat soundlessly and took a long, slow sip of the warm liquid, grasping the mug in both hands, her eyes falling closed as she slumped against her mother’s shoulder. “Awful,” she muttered, taking another sip. “I don’t know how you drink this stuff.”

“Survival,” the woman replied, hiding her delight at how her daughter was leaning so heavily against her. The girl opened her eyes and stared across the kitchen, the refrigerator humming comfortably, sink full of last night’s dishes, birthday cards and dried flowers taped along the edge of the windowsill. She glanced at the book in her mother’s lap, trying to make out the small text through blurry eyes. There was something vaguely familiar about the leather-bound cover. “What are you reading?”

The thin paper whispered against itself as the woman turned a page, hesitating before beginning to read aloud, her voice going quieter as she spoke. “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and… and I will give you rest.” She stopped, seeming to realize the gravity of the words as they left her mouth, and breathed for a moment before continuing. “Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.”

The sun moved outside the window, morning growing later, the kitchen becoming brighter. “Rest for your souls,” the girl said after a long while. She sat up and stole the nearly empty mug from her mother, taking another sip, smiling a little. The room smelled like tired warmth, and neither of them wanted to break the silence.

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