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Rachel?”

Whaaa…”

Did I wake you?”

I glanced at the clock again. Still 5:22. “Dad,” I said, “What’s wrong?”

My father was outside in the hall, talking quietly through the closed door. “Nothing’s wrong, sweetheart,” he said. “I just wondered if you and Katie were up yet.”

My father has the habit of waking up hours before anyone else. On most mornings he tiptoes around the house, showering, shaving, making himself breakfast, and then goes to work. On the days he doesn’t work, however, the ritual is still the same, except when he can no longer stand the solitude of his own company, he wakes up my mother or whomever is in the house with him.

No, Dad,” I said, “We’re not up yet. Where’s Mom?”

Still sleeping.”

Silence.

Sorry,” he said finally. “I’ll come back later.”

Later, to my father, was maybe ten minutes. “No, that’s OK,” I said. “Let me get dressed. Is the coffee on?”

Yes. Would you like toast?”

No, thanks – just coffee.”

The swish-flap, swish-flap of my father’s bedroom slippers faded as he padded off down the hall. He would be happier now, knowing that company was on the way.

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