I cast my eyes to the clock as the toddler comes wheeling into the den. It's a bit late for him to be awake, especially in this hyperactive state.
He jumbles a few important papers I left too close to the edge of my desk and, as if for effect, he steps onto them and slides across the floor. I get up to retrieve the crumpled pages, and almost instantly he's moved on to something else.
"Don't - don't play with those!" I scold, meekly.
It's too late. The toddler is already elbow-deep in the weathered wooden chest against the left wall. He's pulled out a photo book, which stands like a small house at his feet. Next is my old uniform, then the box of assorted patches and medals.
The clatter of tiny metal stars hitting the hard floor echoes in my ears... again.
As I rush to clean up this new mess, the little kamikaze is wobbling across the room at full speed, gibbering madly as infants tend to do. He watches me struggle to kneel as he bounces madly atop the ottoman.
I stop for a moment and simply study the manic look on his face. He seems to study my wrinkled visage as well, looking for any sort of reaction he can pull out of me.
I've come to expect this. I should be used to it. I'm old enough to be his grandfather... or... perhaps these days, great-grandfather would be more likely. I should have the patience and wisdom to deal with my small tormentor appropriately.
Still, every appearance sends my sense reeling.
I'm thankful, in a way, that the toddler is the one who enters my makeshift home office. The large figure outside, staring, frowning at me, is much more frightening. That tremendous mass of bare flesh reminds me of a sumo wrestler in search of a challenge.
He's never even said a word... at no point throughout the decades have I heard him make a sound. The only harbinger of his arrival would be the creaking of floor boards in the hall.
It's a stark contrast against the mewling, babbling child. I can't imagine he's the child's father, though it would explain their seemingly inseparable nature.
At first, I wondered why they would appear... why they followed me from house to house... why they insisted on appearing to me and me alone. However, in my senior years, I've come to put these questions aside and focus on the biggest mystery at hand.
Why do they glow so brightly?