I sit by the peaceful light of the television. Music comes from it. It is bright—bright, so that I can study. But it is soft—soft, so that the children can sleep.
Blonde heads. Dark heads. Quilts. Sleeping bags. Some with pillows and some without. All the children are sleeping.
All except for one. She climbs on my lap, as she always does, and I wrap my left arm around her. My right hand writes notes. Big words. Lexicon. Subdialect. Pronunciation. The little girl says she can write her name. I give her my pencil. She writes something that starts with B and ends with something that looks like an uppercase Q.
But we write quietly. The children are sleeping.
A fan is blowing. The music is soft and sweet. It is piano music, worship music, sleeping music. I am relaxed. The little girl is warm in my arms and my chair is comfortable and I wish I could sleep with the children. But there is too much light, and I must study.
The girl gets off my lap. I study harder. A twenty-page PDF turns into a page and a half of notes. I check the time; the head teacher should be here in five minutes. I study another source, this time a shorter one that only needs half a page of notes. The children are still sleeping.
The teacher is late. A fat little boy approaches me and asks to go to the restroom. I let him out the door and watch for his return. His earlobes jiggle when he walks. A little blonde girl asks to go potty. I let her out the door and watch for her return.
Surely the children are used to waking up by now. Their teacher should be back by now. But I will not turn on the light. No. Let the children sleep.
M. J. Piazza is a Jesus-loving, dog-walking country girl who just so happens to write books.