I am lying in bed with Five. Our old bedtime routine has become new again because four months ago Five wanted to kill himself and I will do anything to make him better. So, each night Four and Five climb in my bed and I snuggle with them. I really just curl up next to Five because he needs to be in the middle, to combat fears he won't name.
We are waiting for Four to finish brushing his teeth and join us. I hug Five and kiss his neck, loudly.
"Wow, that was some smooch, Mom."
I do not believe I have ever used the word "smooch" to describe kissing to him.
"I know, " I say, "it was really loud."
"Serious smooching. Like in a cartoon, with people in love."
I kiss him again.
"Wait, let me try and smooch you," he says.
I am delighted. Five has never been a great kisser. He doesn't purse so much as press his lips. But really, I'm just in it to hear him say "smooch" one more time. I offer my cheek. There is slight pressure, and a resultant soft pop.
"Not as loud as yours," he says.
"But pretty good!" I offer.
Four walks around to "his" side of the bed. "Whatcha doin'?"
"Mom was smooching me. It was really loud, like on a show."
"Ohhhwa," he says, disappointed. "I want a kiss!"
I sit up and kiss him and he lays back down, head on the mattress just below the pillow. He never uses one, while Five spends half the night flipping his to keep it cool. I reach across Five to hold Four's hand because he has autism and feels left out all the way over there. Five knows this.
"Move over, Four," he says, "so we can all be together."
He does, pushing his back up against Five. I can almost get my arm across his belly, prominent and soft from years of medication. The fan hums noisily, inadequately pushing the air. After a few minutes, Five kicks a leg out from under the covers and Four rolls away from my outstretched hand.
I'm only supposed to stay a few minutes because we're trying to make the new routine the old routine once again. But Four has autism and Five wanted to die, so I pull them closer and let myself drift off to the sound of tree frogs singing.