Sunday, September 20, 2015

Time and space

What time is it?

I sense the panic before I hear it. Lights go on across the hall. There are audible sighs and other noises of discontent. The clamoring around starts next. Small items mostly, I can't tell what they are, but I know they are being shuffled and dropped. I can sense the disappointment next.

She did not find what she was seeking.

She harumphs around some more but doesn't call out for assistance.

A part of me wishes I were still asleep. The other part wishes I were awake and dressed and smiling some beatific parental smile at my daughter as she started her day.

But I am not that person. Not these days, anyway.

She hasn't needed me to prod her along, so I don't get up with her anymore. I lay in bed and listen to the tap run until the shower switches over.

Close the curtain, I think. Water is probably sluicing over the edge.

Later, I'll use the wet towel I find on the floor, by the side of her bed, in a heap of clothes that will greet me when I go into her room to shut off lights.

Why bother harping?

I turn over and cover my shoulders with blankets while she hums as she dresses and brushes her hair.

But I can't go back to sleep. I just put off for as long as I can the feeling of shock as my feet first press down on the cold floor. Like knives piercing bone.

I won't limp around long. I know in three steps I will feel fine.

But my feet haven't touched the floor yet.

What time is it?

I reach for my phone.

It's so early …

The sun hasn't even crept out from its nighttime roost, somewhere beyond the earth. ...

But I know by the numbers on the screen that it's almost too late. The bus will be coming soon and with it more panic.

I'm still in bed. She can't hear me ask the questions in my head, but they fill the space between us anyway.

Do you have your homework packed?
Do you have your shoes on?
Did you have any breakfast this morning?
Are you buying lunch today?

A curt “yes, mom,” with increasing irritation, is her answer each time. Or so I imagine.

Thing is, she has this all under control. Even if she's not doing things the way I would do them, things are getting done.

Downstairs, the refrigerator opens. Glass rattles for a while and becomes silent. The door alarm sounds.

Let's not refrigerate the kitchen, shall we?”

But I didn't say it aloud.

The bottles shift and clink again as the door slurps closed. The beeping stops. I know she hears my voice in her head sometimes.

The television switches on, or maybe I hear chatter from a computer tablet propped against the coffee machine as she pours cereal, and then milk, and finally rummages for a spoon. She has a routine.

She will put the milk away, but she won't wipe up the spills.

I might be annoyed once I see it later, who knows? Sometimes just grab a sponge and sop up the angst along with the slop.

What time is it?

I already know it's later still. The sky is filled with light now, and the house is silent once again.

And then comes the real panic.

I get up and grab yesterday's clothes. I pull them on and find some scuffs. I make it out to the edge of the driveway before it's too late.

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