The boys were fighting again, taunting one another in the back seat. She went to yell but couldn’t find the energy. Defeated, depleted…she thought what did it matter, they didn’t listen.
Last time this happened she was in a drive through, getting a quick snack for them. She was always doing things for them. Their bickering had distracted her…the result, a severe gutter rashed front wheel. She had yelled, ranted. They were quiet for a while after.
Every day was the same…dropping kids to school, picking them up in the afternoon. Her weekends, well, it seemed the gods were against her. One played soccer the other rugby. They never played near one another or at the same time. Often, she relied on other parents.
Where was her husband? She needed him now. She needed him to help with school drop of and pick up. She needed him to help with Saturday morning sports. She couldn’t do it all herself. He said he was working for the family, to give them a better life. They had things, nice things, but things couldn’t replace him.
She wanted him.
An eerie silence filled the car…she didn’t notice. Her mind filled with thoughts of how life was pre-kids, how life was today, what the future might bring. She drove on automatic; the car knew where they lived.
She pulled into the driveway clicked the garage door remote and parked the car inside.
Still on automatic she went into the house, made the boys afternoon tea and said, ‘Do your homework.’
If she had looked their way she would have seen uncertainty, fear in the eyes of her young sons. Mum didn’t do this. Mum yelled, threatened, talked non-stop. Silence wasn’t one of her character traits.
She left them in the kitchen. They waited a few moments then went in search of her. She was in the lounge room on the sofa, feet up, arms wrapped around her knees…all the soft pillows piled beside her. The pillows were acting as a barrier, a wall. She was crying. A box of tissues sat on a pillow.
Back in the kitchen, they made a phone call. ‘Do your homework, I’ll be there shortly.’
For the next half hour, they continued to check intermittently. Was she still there? Was she still crying?
Yes, she was still on the sofa…used tissues lay about.
They heard the front door open. Footsteps came down the hallway towards the kitchen. They looked at each other, held each other’s hands.
‘Hi.’ It was their Nana…their nana with the big smile. She enveloped them in her gigantic hug. ‘Where is Mum?’
‘In the lounge room.’
‘Finish your homework. I’ll be back when I’m finished.’
‘I think she misses Dad,’ the eldest said. ‘I wish heaven had visiting hours. I would take her every day.’
‘It’s the getting used to being without him, that’s the hardest.’
She ruffled their hair. With a heavy heart, she went in search of her daughter.