In the cool blue still of pre-dawn morning I am frozen, lying awake in bed. I stare at the ceiling, an endless sea of foamy texture, liquid and rippling. Fan blades slowly turn, casting no real shadows; just hints of themselves fade in and out, in and out, across the ceiling. Bed sheets stiff and cold, I am barely touching linen. Almost floating, but still frozen solid. My eyes follow a fan blade pulled in a lazy circle, around, and around, and around. I have just put down the phone, five minutes ago. Ten maybe. It’s hard to know, exactly. The phone is cradled on the windowsill; with my hand at my side I can touch the receiver with the tips of my fingers. Cold white smooth plastic. The window is only a faint blue square outline with fuzzy stripes of soft white light glowing in through the blinds. Somewhere north, far away, my mother is in the hospital. Lung cancer. Probably won’t live too long. My hand was over the phone; I listened to a woman talking with my dad. A relative, maybe. There is a knock on my bedroom door. I melt, reach down to my feet and pull the sheet up over my body. It slowly lands on my skin and I shiver. Goosebumps. “Come in.” The door opens; orange light like glowing fire stings my eyes. My dad is a burning shadow in the doorframe. “You won’t be going to school today. Your mom’s real sick and, um, I guess you should go see her. I got you a plane ticket to Ohio.” “When?” I sit up in bed. I’ve never been on a plane. “This afternoon. I couldn’t get you a flight until three. We should be at the airport by one.” He hesitates, his hand still on the doorknob. “It’s gonna be a long day for you. Try to go back to sleep.” He pauses, says, “I’m sorry Mikel,” and then shuts the door. I try to remember just exactly what does my mother look like. She can’t look the same as when I was a kid; that was a long time ago. People change a lot in fifteen years. People grow up, people grow old. People die, and I haven’t seen her since I was three. Maybe four. It’s hard to know, exactly. My eyes find the fan blades again. I reach up, stretch my arm way up, and twice pull the fan’s chain. The fan groans and the blades have momentum and I pull the sheet up to my neck. The blades are now a motion-blurred circle, sending wind and noise down on me in steady waves. I shut my eyes, let my body freeze still and I wonder again what does she look like now. ~ Bright yellow light sticks to the walls like wet paint and I can almost smell the sun. I smash a full laundry basket-load of clean, wrinkled clothes into a brown, cracking leather suitcase. Fist-fulls of white underwear, white socks, two pairs of jeans, nine or ten t-shirts, I force them all in. From the closet, I pack a black hoodie and a pair of scruffy leather boots. I grab my book-bag and turn it upside down, dumping into a pile all my school stuff. Random papers, textbooks, notebooks, I dump it all. With the bag empty, I walk out of my bedroom, down the hall and into the bathroom. Toothbrush, toothpaste, cologne, deodorant. I sweep it all into the bag. Under the sink, I find bar soap and toilette paper. I grab one bar and it’s in the bag.
Posted on: Mon, 25 Nov 2013 16:56:06 +0000
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