I woke up early today or, rather, I did not sleep well last night. It is still dark outside and all that I hear is the quiet hum of my fridge and the tick-tock of the clock. My son is sleeping soundly beside me. He is lying on his belly with his head on the side and his right leg slightly raised.
I inaudibly get up and proceed to the kitchen to fix myself some coffee. I always start my day with one. While measuring the right ratio of instant coffee and sugar, I am having an inner battle whether to have some toast. I skip the toast and set down my mug on the table waiting for it to cool down. I always think it is ironic to want your coffee hot, but cooling it down to drink.
I stare at the dark sky outside my window. Although it is quarter past five, it feels like 4am. Night is indeed longer at this time of the year. Then, I have this sudden urge to run away. Don’t know where. Don’t know why. I put down my half-empty cup then I grab my cardigan and keys and out the door.
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My steps are quick. I feel like I will lose my momentum if I slow down. I am already two blocks away when I pause. There is a small park where neighbourhood kids can play and I sit down on the closest park bench and close my eyes for a bit.
My mom had the same episode. I think I was around seven or eight at that time when my mom ran away. My younger brother and sister probably do not remember this as they were too young. After we had lunch that day, my mom said that she needed to go somewhere. She didn’t say where or why, but told us to behave ourselves.
She traded her usual worn-out, hole-ridden clothes to a decent pair of jeans and t-shirt. She brought a medium-sized bag with her. At first, we didn’t mind her absence. After all, she did this all time (I mean, not taking us with her when she does errands) when she needed to go shopping or when she picked one of us from school.
We played to our hearts’ content that day. Made a mess in the house. No one will scold us, we probably thought.
However, it was around dusk when we started to ask each other where our mother was. No one knew. Our youngest was starting to get anxious and surveyed the whole street several times, but there was no sign of her. It was getting darker outside and we haven’t eaten yet.
Around 7pm, my mom suddenly bursted through the door panting. Then, breathed a sigh of relief when she saw us. Just as surprised as she was, we bombarded her with questions about where she went, which she left unanswered. She silently proceeded to the kitchen to make us dinner. After dinner, we cleaned up, then went to bed. We were back to our usual routine.
Years later, I was in highschool when I brought this up in one of our conversations. I asked where she went that time. She said that she went to a park around 20 miles away from home. She just walked around, she said. Probably to clear her head or sort out her feelings. My mom never really had time for herself when she had us. She was ready to throw it all, but when it was getting dark, her feet took her back home. She suddenly couldn’t do it.
I feel a twinge in my chest as I remember this. Weak rays of the sun touch me and an occasional jogger passes in front of me. The sound of cars fills the city air. It is probably around 7am by now. I start to trace my steps back, almost brisk walking. I reach home and carefully wind the key trying my best not to make a noise. I peeked into our bedroom, he is still soundly sleeping in the same position when I left. I proceed to the kitchen and quietly do the dishes.