I walk into the lounge and my mom is fast asleep on the couch.
As I look down at her sleeping face, an immense deep sadness fills me. I glance around the room and my dad’s leaving is glaringly obvious. There are gaps in the bookshelves, in the DVD and CD rack. A painting is missing over the fireplace.
I lean down toward my mom. I touch her shoulder sympathetically and I say softly, “Mom.” I wait a bit and then I say again, “Mommy, come it’s time to go to bed.”
Her eyes flutter open and she looks up at me bewildered. Her blonde curls are messy and sticking up in wickedly wild ways. She smiles timidly. “Was I sleeping?”
I laugh. “Yeah, you were snoring.”
She looks back at me insulted. Jokingly she says, “Now I can snore to my heart’s content, without worrying your dad will feel threatened he does not snore the loudest.”
“Exactly.” I sit down on the couch next to her and I say, “You know he doesn’t deserve you, right?”
She smiles up at me sadly.
Quietly I ask, “Do you still love him?”
She frowns briefly and then she replies evasively, “What is love really?”
I sigh as I stand up. “Good question. Do you want a cuppa?”
“Please.” She sits up and brushes her hand over her dishevelled head as I walk to the kitchen.
When I walk into the kitchen, I notice the door to the laundry room is open and the light is off. This is not what makes me take a step backward. I look directly at a dark shadow standing in the doorway, its long dark, hazy skirt brushing the ground under it. I gasp loudly and reach for the light switch blindly. As soon as the glaring fluorescent light flickers on, the dark silhouette is gone.
“Mom,” I call to her in the lounge. I check the water level in the kettle.
I switch on the kettle and reach for two cups in the top of the cupboard, above the kettle. “I need you to make me an appointment to see the doctor, or maybe better yet, the optometrist.”
“Why?” She sounds worried.
“I think there is something wrong with my eyes. I keep seeing dark shapes, but when I look directly at it, there is nothing.”
She comes rushing into the kitchen. She takes my head between her hands and looks into my eyes as if she can determine what is wrong just by staring at them. “When did this start?”
“I think it was on Friday.”
She clicks her tongue. “Stress. Must be stress. I told you already; this thing between your dad and me is just that, between him and me. He still loves you and you will still see him whenever you can and want to.”
I turn away from her to put the teabags into the cups. She leans back against the kitchen counter and continues looking at me worriedly.
She does not understand though; I am strangely happy for the peace I feel that has settled over the house. Together with my dad, there is a missing tension. I feel hurt and rejected. It feels as if he is not even concerned about me, he leaves me without a care in the world to go and live with another woman. Since Wednesday, he has not even tried to phone me. My mom’s words echo in my head—what is love really?