“Can I go outside and wait with Fox?” Isabelle asked.
I checked my phone. Two minutes until the bus would arrive. I checked the sidewalk. Fox was already waiting — between his driveway and ours — for the schoolbus.
Isabelle looked surprised so I continued. “I’ll watch from the window until you get on the bus.”
Isabelle donned her backpack and walked to the door. I stooped down, though not quite as far as I used to, and kissed the top of her head. I opened the door, waved hello to Fox, and felt the cold hit me.
“Are you sure you want to wait outside? It’s cold.”
“I’m sure,” Isabelle replied.
“Have a good day!” I called to both of them as I closed the door.
I cradled my coffee while Isabelle walked towards her 12-year-old neighbor. Next, she walked to our mailbox and opened it. She noticed it was empty and promptly closed it. Then, she walked in a couple of small circles. She peered longingly at our house. She walked closer, but not too close.
I opened the door, “Are you cold? Do you want to come back inside and wait?”
She nodded. Fox and I exchanged knowing looks.
“Do you want to come inside and wait too?”
He replied with a polite no, reminding me he’s always warm.
Isabelle hustled back to the front door. I smiled and reminded her, “You can always come back home.”
Those words lingered in my mind. To me, it meant more than coming inside on a cold morning, but I doubted she picked up on the dual meaning.
Less than 30 seconds later, the school bus rounded the corner. Time to say goodbye again.