Bradlee felt thick with lack of sleep. Her body was moving at the speed of sludge and her mind couldn't keep up even with that. Her keys should have been on the counter by the door, but they weren't.
Merry babbled in her baby carrier, her hands bouncing in the air like she was conducting an invisible orchestra.
"Dyah ba ba ba da," Merry said. "Ah er kay ba ba."
Bradlee bent at the waist to give the baby a kiss on her cherry red lips.
"And then what happened, sweetie? Tell me the rest of your story," she said.
"Ba ba ba mwah be," Merry said.
If only she could snuggle with Merry all day, Bradlee thought. But she had to get to her card shop. She had the opening shift. Who scheduled that anyway, she wondered wryly. She was the shop's owner and its only employee.
She scanned the counter and the table again for her keys, lifting up a pile of junk mail to see if they'd slipped under.
"Did you see where Mommy left her keys, baby girl?" she said, in her habit of talking aloud to Merry. The experts said talking to the baby developed language skills, but sometimes Bradlee felt like she was talking to herself.
"Ba ba pock et," Merry said.
Sounded like a word, Bradlee thought. Pock et. Pocket.
She patted her blazer pocket over her hip and felt the sharp ridges of a set of keys.
She touched her nose to Merry's tiny one. "My smart girl," she said.