I woke up and groggily opened an eye. 5 a.m. I still couldn’t sleep. Not after what had happened just two hours ago. Despite the perfect night I had had with Leila, I had come home to yelling. Fighting. Like it was before dad was constantly gone.
He needed to leave. The house wasn’t his, no matter how many bills he paid. Mom and I lived in it. I was the one who took care of mom every night. I made myself breakfast, lunch and dinner, whether it was Kraft macaroni or a turkey sandwich. School was not an option. Rather, it was, but I had decided to stay home and take care of mom instead.
I lived here.
I sighed heavily. What were my options now? The options in life that would make me happy again? I didn’t think there were any.
At this point, Leila was all I had.
I guess she was better than nothing.
I ran downstairs, putting my sweats on halfway down the stairway. Racing down the hall and swinging open the door to the kitchen, I panted heavily as I ripped open the milk jug and took a large gulp.
“Owen,” I heard a voice scold behind me. Mom.
I didn’t mean to be snarky, but hell, I hadn’t seen my mom in the kitchen during breakfast for more than a year. “You’re eating breakfast in the kitchen this morning? Aren’t you supposed to be sleeping?” I chuckled.
“Owen, there’s nothing to laugh at. What’s wrong with your mom eating breakfast in the kitchen on a Wednesday morning?” she asked.
“Um…only the fact that you haven’t eaten breakfast in the kitchen in over a year. You’ve been recovering.”
“Don’t you be snarky with me, OJ,” she said, but she was smiling.
I smiled back. It made me feel good to see mom like this. I wondered what had thrown her off course.
“OJ, we have to talk about some things,” she whispered quietly, her joyful mood changing drastically. I waited for her to continue.
“First and foremost, you need to start going to school,” she said firmly. Already, millions of questions swarmed my mind, leaving me to ponder upon the fact that I would actually have to sit through long lectures and bring home textbooks. I didn’t utter a sound.
“Secondly,” she paused, but thought better of it and continued, “Your father and I are going to be… separated. Just until we figure things out,” she said quickly. Suddenly, I was speechless. I had nothing to say, and even if I had, I was sure I wouldn’t have known how to say it.
I wasn’t upset, but I wasn’t happy either.
“Owen?” she asked. “How do you feel about that?”
“Fine. Perfectly fine,” I sputter. It was dad who would be gone. Why should I care?
Why did I get the feeling that it wasn’t fine?
She looked at me as if to say “I know it’s not.” But I shook my head and walked calmly out the door, grabbing my jacket, which had been slung over one of the chairs. “I’m going to take a walk,” I added.
I didn’t look back once.
Multiple scenes flashed before me, forming into a strangely haunting dream. The night dad left for the first time. Mom in bed, helpless. Leila and I, whispering to each other under the stars.
Wallowing in darkness.
“Cramped, dark corners are not grainy visions, but perhaps windows to the soul, beautifully small revelations.” A voice whispered in my ear, someone that I could not recognize.
Darkness, I could not see anything but black.
Where was I?
I woke up, quickly, silently, and scrambled for paper and a pencil. I had to remember what the voice had whispered. Somehow, it seemed important.
I snatched a pencil from my desk and grabbed a book, not realizing or caring that it belonged to a library. Hastily, I copied it, struggling only slightly to remember the exact words. I closed the book and shoved it under my bed.