He had come to me quietly, curtains still closed, all shadow. "Mummy?"
I have to swim through the last vestiges of sleep to find him. I gather his dark shape into my arms with a mumbled good morning and he finds his best fit, folding over on top of the duvet across my chest, his head meeting its familiar place at my collarbone. He says nothing for three long beats. Enough time for my fingers to find the little twist of hair that bunches at the back of his neck and for me to take in a breath of him, his weight pulling gently at my lungs.
"Do you know my favourite kind of picture?" he asks, suddenly loud and sitting upright. I cannot see his face clearly in the still-dim room.
"I do not," I reply, and the words catch thick in my unused mouth and I have to cough to smooth them. "What is your favourite kind of picture?"
He shifts to pull his hands from where he'd tucked them under me and raises them, a conductor getting ready for something important.
"It's when you have, like, a shape," he says, "a dark shape, and light coming here." He gestures and I see the shadow of him frown in concentration. "But *this* is black and, and, around it is light." He stumbles with the words, stuck, and drops his hands, defeated.
"Do you mean like a silhouette?" I say, gently, and his whole body moves with his affirmation.
"Yes! Yes, that's what I mean." His back is straight and eager now and I can feel the energy in him already, the day not even begun.
"Are you thinking of a specific picture? One you've seen?" I ask.
A head-shake. "No, it's just... I can see what I mean, in my head. Like a city skyline?"
I nod and smile, not sure if he can see me.
Three more beats while we both think of his picture, and I smile again in the dark at the shape he is making in the half-open door, silhouette himself.
"You can make those kind of pictures with a camera, you know, if you look where the light is," I say, inspired, and feel his fingers find my hands, pushing their way into them as I speak, needing connection. "So if you have someone here, and you can see that the light is coming behind them, from the sun, or from a window if you're inside..." It is my turn now to pull my hands away to help me, and I shift my shoulders up the pillows to let me gesture better. "And then you stand *here", in front of them, and take a photo, you'll get their silhouette."
"Yes!" He gets it. "Like if... like if Darth was to sit on the radiator by your window, and you took a photo of that?"
"That's it! And then if you were to change it and have the light behind YOU--"
He interrupts. "Like you're in the shadow and the light is over there by the person," he says again, still stuck on his image, not hearing me. "Light here and dark here..." His busy hands are moving again.
"That's right, then you'd have a silhouette photo. But if you moved and stood where the light is, with it behind you," I try again, "the dark behind the other person, then the light will shine on them and you'll get a super clear photo. That's how you get a lovely, bright image."
"Yeah!" He smiles. It is lighter in here already, the freckle on his top lip is visible: my favourite one. "Mummy, can I watch Pokemon?"
He's up and moving even as he says it and I laugh a yes, my chest and my bed empty again, my heart full. I am left to hear the thunder of the stairs and to stretch and wake more slowly.
I could not wish more for you, bright star. For you to see light and for you to see dark.
I could not wish more for me.