She is wearing one sock and her hair clasp is hanging by a few strands. Dressed in hand-me-down PJs, the red ones that belonged to Matthew with the yellow dump truck on the front, she rubs her eyes with one fist and pulls the Wee Hairy Beastie to her cheek with the other. I pick her up and her head goes immediately to my shoulder, and I inhale her, all applesauce and generic baby shampoo and sweat. Minutes from now we will be curled up in my bed, she with her bottle and me with my baby, some book held out in front of us that I’ll attempt to read while she flips the pages back and forth, back and forth. She will fall asleep next to me, and I will drift in and out of my novel, the one I have started three times now, until finally I have to carry her to her own bed and call it a night because I just can’t hold my eyes open any longer. I could write more after that, after sleep has settled her and the house is still, but we all know I won’t. On this late fall night, with its premature darkness and crisp fall breeze, I will tell myself it is enough that I came here to offer up this excuse: my daughter is sleepy, and she is reaching out her arms to me.