Tuesday, July 25, 2006

another day

Sunrise: electric fans whirring in the windows, a breeze sidling in over the early morning mist, air as cool and self-contained as the fog that rolls out of the freezer in the kitchen downstairs when I open it. Underneath a heavy white coverlet I am warm, even boneless.

But not comfortable.

I extend my right arm across the bed, opening and closing my hand as if reaching but not quite grasping something that only I can see. I watch my fingers open and close.

One thought nagging over and over, an impatient child's insistent whine.

Where is my son? Have you seen him?

The last time I talked to him, it was Thursday and he was laughing, a little out of breath, checking in quick before going on to something else.

That was Thursday.

Friday he called, but I was at the movies with the other two boys. We watched Monster House. I got the message when we got back home, garbled and all in a rush: "Mom. I'm just calling to tell you that..[something]...and say hi...we are getting ready to leave for..[something-something]...call me back, immediately."


I replayed the message three times and understood it no better each time. I did call, but I got rerouted to voice mail. Again, and again, and again, and again.

It's the immediately that snagged at my anxieties. Why the immediately?

As the days pass I understand I will have to call other numbers than the cell phone; it worked so well in the past, but there are reasons why my son would be unreachable by cell. They could be traveling through in area in which there is no service (and they do travel, on this vacation). The battery could have worn out. There could be no power to call on a real phone; they are, after all, in California.

Reasonable explanations these. It just bothers me. It always bothers me when days and days go between communications. One wants to stop people on the street and ask them, needlessly: Have you heard anything? Have you?

So I call places I imagine he could be, but all I get are more voice mails. It is beginning to feel rote: I am starting to expect a recording with which to discuss the whereabouts of my son.

I check the phone as anxiously as a teenager, scrolling through the Caller ID looking for the telltale number, the footprint in the sand. It isn't there.

It doesn't have to be a long conversation. You just have to tell me that you're okay.

But then there is the element of trust, which is something of which I don't have any extra. He's with his father and his father always takes good care of him. He is all right, wherever he is at. I have to believe that.

I know that. I'd just still like to hear from him, nonetheless.

After a while, the right hand stops opening and closing. It rolls into a resigned fist and then unfolds, slowly, patting and smoothing the coverlet beheath, supporting my weight as I sit up and look around. I swing my legs over the side of the bed and plant my feet firmly on the cool wooden floorboards.

Sighing heavily.

Another day.