Published 7:44 am Wednesday, January 6, 2010

His fingers scraped along the brick. Rough. Scratchy. Seeming to prick his skin. Extending the index finger, he pushed. It was hard. And cold. Or at least, not warm, unlike the soft fleshy world to which he was accustomed. He laid his ear upon it. Absent were the rhythmic gurgling sounds beneath the surface that made him warm all over. As if to start a new file, he unwittingly catalogued the surface for future reference.

“Look at Matthew!” exclaimed Barbara. She and Cassie laughed upon seeing the small head, turned sideways, laid upon the fireplace hearth.

“He thinks it’s a pillow!” surmised Cassie as they relished that most common spectator sport embraced by young mothers. Not requiring conversation, the mood was filled with the irresistible observation of offspring antics.

Standing upright, Matthew gazed up at the two large creatures in the chairs. Their gaze was focused on him. Mouths open, showing teeth, eyes squinting with shaking bodies. He found their reaction pleasurable. Leaning over, he placed his ear once again on the hearth. Same reaction and same pleasure. Repeating the action produced diminishing results until the two creatures became engaged, once again, uttering sounds between themselves. But not before Matthew bookmarked such a pleasurable experience. Such ecstasy he would pursue again.

Waddling across the carpet, the 18-month-old was unsteady upon just two feet. But all around him used only two. After four steps he teetered forward onto the soft carpet. Noticing a round object, he reached under the couch and encircled a renegade Cheerio that was soon dissolving in his mouth. Another discovered pleasure found amongst dark places. ‘Exploring underneath objects are of benefit’ his little mind recorded. Sitting up, enjoying the flavor, he listened in on the sounds emanating from the creatures above.

“Mama always talked about the value of education. She always said …”

Putting his lips together, Matthew mimicked the “M” sound. “Mmmmmm,” he said. “Mmmm. Mmmm. Mmmm.” He liked how it felt in his throat.

“I can’t wait ’til he gets to school and actually starts learning. Then he’ll be able to …”

Sauntering around the corner, Matthew picked up a blue, plastic block and brought it to his mouth, sampling the taste. Then he dropped it, wondering why it went down instead of up.