A bus.

A bus.

A Story by JFag
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A story about a family.

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ANNA

The house gets lonely these days.  It’s not as loud as it once was.  The kids no longer make noise.  I remember when I used to tell them to be quiet.  I don’t think I ever meant it.  Now the silence is here and it hurts.

It’s been almost five months since Jay left for school.  I knew it would be hard for me, but I had no idea it would be this hard.  Each and every day I expect to hear his heavy, deliberate footsteps down the stairs, to hear his muffled phone conversations through the too-thin walls of this house.  I miss how he was never afraid to show me affection, to kiss his mother goodnight in front of all his friends.  He is so big now; I don’t think people understand how strange it is for a mother to see her child as an adult.  I have only to look at him to remember the day he came into the world, red-faced and squealing.  It’s so strange and almost debilitating to have my role as his mother suddenly frozen, put on hold.  Sometimes I wish Jay and Nina could have stayed children forever.  But children grow, and children learnAnd children leave.

For the past eighteen years all I have done is be a mother.  Now that my children are out of the house, I don’t know what to do.  I’ve spent so much of my life learning how to care for my children sometimes I wonder if I’ve forgotten how to care for myself.

The days have grown long again.  Oftentimes I find myself wandering around the house, realizing just how empty it truly is.  The house’s decorations have tried to fool me, to make the house feel more lived in and warm.  Countless plaques with trite sayings about family line the walls.  A sign that says “Spa” hangs on the bathroom door.  Sometimes I have to grit my teeth to keep from screaming.

Being alone causes me to think, to think about everything, to think about the things I told myself I’d forgotten.  I think of the time I first met Andrew, I think of the first time we kissed, I think of the room where I realized I could love him, I think of the look on his face when I told him I was pregnant.  I remember when Jay was born; I remember the tears streaming down Andrew’s face.  I remember the day when I questioned whether we still loved each other.

            Our bedroom feels large and useless.  We sit in our bed in silence readings books and newspapers.  I remember the times when we couldn’t keep our hands off each other, when we would tangle ourselves together.  I remember looking at the way he absently stroked my arm and realizing, with no doubt in my mind, that he was madly and positively in love with me. 

            I would love nothing more than to squeeze Andrew tight and tell him that I’m sorry, hear him say he’s sorry and we’re all sorry, everyone is sorry and things are OK.  I would have nothing more than that, but things have changed and we are too involved in this routine to change it now.  Routine rules my life. Our lives.  All I want to do is hug him tight and whisper onto his neck.  But maybe those days are over now.

            I remember when Nina was so eager to run errands with me, always so bright-eyed and cheery, eager to help her mommy with anything she could.  I remember when she would tug at my shirt and ask me to read to her.  Lately I’m lucky if she even greets me. 

            I remember when we were the epitome of a “happy family”.  I remember when things were brighter.

But times change, and so do we.

ANDREW

Huff. Huff. Huff.  My heaving breathing is the only thing I hear half the day.  It morphs into a rhythm, a comfortable beat keeping me company while I dig and lift and unscrew and tighten.  There is not a day of work where I don’t feel as though I have to quit for the sake of my sanity.  Manual labor will get to you.  Doing the same thing everyday, the same movements, will eventually begin to grate at you, like a rock in your shoe that you can’t remove.

These movements have become nothing to me.  I move like a machine, my thoughts and movements do not intersect.  This leaves me time to think.  Too much time, I’d say.

I think of Anna.  I think of the way her hair falls lazily in front of her face as she chops vegetables, and I think of the way we’ve lost touch.  I dread coming home from work, not because of our interactions but because of our lack thereof.  I would love nothing more than to tuck her hair behind her ear and kiss her forehead, but those days are gone.  We live in the same house and sleep in the same bed but there is a wall between us, a wall of cold sheet metal built upon years of slowly becoming more absorbed with things other than each other, years of dealing with the slowly declining affections of our children.  Years of growing agitated and snapping at each other, years of letting things continue downward.

Huff. My mind drifts to Nina, the beautiful young lady who refuses to let us in.  She comes home, hands tucked deep into jacket pockets and stomps up to her room, closing the door.  The slam of the door is inevitably followed by the soft, crushing click of the door being locked.  She thinks we don’t know what she’s up to.  Well, Anna might not, but I do.  I can tell she’s been running with the wrong crowd.  I’m not too proud of it, but I’ve searched her room.  I know what she’s up to. It crushes me to watch her waste her last few years of innocence.  Her youth will end soon, and whatever remaining innocence she has as well.  I remember when she used to fall asleep on my lap as we watched movies. 

Days are hard, but nights are hard too.  Jay has left the house, and with him the last remaining hope of sincere communication between the family.  I don’t know what happened.  I don’t know how we all grew so distant.  All I can hope for is that someday soon we will go back to the loving, close-knit family we used to be.  I can only hope that things will chance.

Huff. Huff.

NINA

and all I can tell is that the room is filled.  Every inch, every corner is filled.  Overwhelmingly bright yet incredibly dim. I could say anything right now.  Colors swirl but I can tell they aren’t real.  Music is all around me, encapsulating me. 

            Everything is light and airy, I’m thinking too much. 

 My mind travels everywhere it can.  It brings me to the future.  It brings me to the past.  It helps me rediscover the things I realized and buried inside.  I think of my friends, I wonder whether they could even truly be considered “friends” or not.  I think of school. I think of my family. I think of the tick tick tick of old clocks.  I wonder how anyone could tolerate that.

            All I want to do is make things better.  My house is gray now.  Our house has become so dim.  Every day feels like a cloudy Sunday Afternoon.  We can rise up and down and up and down and sit, sit if that’s how we like to sit.  I think about my brother.  I remember the time I realized I needed excess to truly be happy.  Maybe I had know it for years by then, I just had refused to acknowledge it, even in a tiny whisper to myself.[iv]  It’s hard to accept that  life itself has become too dim, too gray to handle.  But I suppose none of that matters now.

            The dark waves of my past drift by, unaffected.  

            I remember riding bikes around town with Jay, smiling and being content with wandering.  It was nice to feel adventurous yet safe.  I haven’t talked to him in months.

            I can see my parents back then, I can see when they weren’t afraid to smile at each other.  I try not to think of those times too much, because it’s hard to keep my eyes dry.

            I focus my attention outside the window.  The window blows hard, making sweet whistling noises in my ear.  I can’t remember what happened to us as a family. 

            More importantly, I can’t remember what happened to me.

            I remember slowly declining into depression and loneliness, slowly cutting everyone off from my life.  I remember when I stopped being happy. It all seems unimportant now. 

            Am I wasting my youth?  I guess that’s up to me to decide. 

            Outside the window the wind beckons, so full of life. If I close my eyes I can hear Jay and Dad playing catch outside.  But it is only in my mind, as those days are over.

            I get the urge to do something random, foolish. I walk to the window and peek my head out, staring at the million little suburban lights keeping the block comfortable. 

            Sticking my head out of the window, I scream as loud as I can. For the first time in years, I come alive with the euphoria of youth.

            But still, I can remember those days.  I remember enjoying long car rides simply because it meant that I’d be able to hang around with my brother for a while.  I remember when I first realized I didn’t want to be around my family anymore.

I have no idea why these things happen.

And yet, they do.

JAY

 

It all hit me at once.

Mom " Dad " Nina " You

I miss everything and everyone.  I miss the little things, like the way the stoplight on route 30 would always be out, and we would always be livid about it.  I miss family dinner.

Don’t ask why I’m sending you this letter, because I couldn’t tell you.  I just need to get this off my chest and I figured you’d be the most understanding.

I miss you. 

 

I remember when the sun used to wait up for us. I remember when you fell. I remember carrying you to the car that drove you to the hospital.  I remember it all and that’s the worst part. I remember when smiles were always natural.  I remember when things were too hot and too cold and we were too drunk to say the things we wanted to but it didn’t matter because we knew, we could tell what the other was thinking and it worked, words weren’t as necessary as they are now and we could just sit, sit and be happy and sit and be sad and sit and just be teenagers, sit and wonder and be curious and sit and sit and sit and sit and run and run as fast as we could, sometimes scared and sometimes not and I remember keeping our balance, I remember railroad tracks and I remember boys and girls and I remember learning from everyone I was around and asking questions and never getting tired of the answers and I remember how the sun looked, I remember the shades of pink and purple that made life better, and I remember it all, I really do, I remember everything even if my mind doesn’t want me to I remember the tough times and I remember crying I remember watching the terrible decisions and just wanting to know why, why, why did it have to happen like that but at this point it doesn’t matter, none of it does, only the good remains and that’s all that matters, that’s all that ever should have mattered, all I wanted was the end and now all I want is the beginning, I remember rolling down the hill in summer, the weekend before I left. The weekend before it changed.

 

When I return, it won’t be to the same place.

 

That town is gone and that sun is gone and those times are gone and so are we.

 

And it is not, after all, that summer anymore.

Summer is over. Winter is coming. 

 

Growing up is the hardest thing I’ve ever had to do.  Was that line from the Breakfast Club true?

“When you grow up, your heart dies.”

I used to look to my parents to assure me that it wasn’t true, but as of now…I wonder.  They’ve lost their passion for each other and for life in general.  It seems my whole world is passionless. 

Is this how life goes?

Grow up, have kids, give up?

I have to think that’s not true.

 

I remember it all, every little thing and I won’t forget.

I remember my father’s bear hugs and the soft kisses my mother planted on my cheek.

I remember making my parents proud.

I remember when everything was fine.

Do you remember?


© 2010 JFag


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Added on November 11, 2010
Last Updated on November 11, 2010

Author

JFag
JFag

Bloomington, IN



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A Poem by JFag





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