By Adela Brito
I wonder if my six-year-old son realizes something is different about today, the first of many different days.
His father left extra early this morning; it was still dark outside. And, as always, he went into our boy’s room to say goodbye. Jordan knows his father goes on business trips usually only for two days at a time and that always means they spend extra time together the weekend prior or the day before. That happened this time, too, but everything took place at home. No special guys-only outings, or an afternoon at Discovery Zone with the neighbor boys.
As we eat breakfast, Jordan isn’t a bundle of questions about whether he has swimming lessons or T-ball or art class on this summer day. Instead, he’s silently floating from taking a spoonful of oatmeal and fruit to staring out the window. Then, he announces that he’s waiting for hummingbirds to come, that his kindergarten teacher said they’d arrive in the summer.
“They’re very small and easy to miss,” I say.
“Do I need those glasses?” He places each of his hands next to its respective eye.
“Yes. I want some, Mommy.”
“Okay,” I say. “We’ll buy some. We can also get a feeder to put sweet water for them. Then you’ll see hummingbirds all day long.”
Jordan smiles widely at me and immediately switches back to the window. I stare at him and see my husband in miniature: hazel eyes, sandy straight hair that falls onto his forehead no matter how well-combed it is, and a tiny dimple on his left side.
“Done!” he says as he pops the last banana slice into his mouth.
I grab our dishes and walk to the sink. His bowl is empty,mine is mostly full of yogurt, and banana and strawberryslices; my first spoonful of yogurt made me gag. In fact, for the last three days, I haven’t been able to keep much down.
“Mommy?” His sweet voice tugs at me.
I stop rinsing the dishes, set them in the sink, turn off the water, and grip the edge of the countertop to prepare myself. “Yeah, sweetie?”
“Daddy’s face was wet this morning. I felt it when he kissed me goodbye. He didn’t wake me up like he always does, but I was awake.”
“Oh, you were?”
“Yes, a little awake. But I heard Daddy say, ‘I love you, I love you, I love you.’ He said it like ten times.”
“Well, he wanted you to know because…”
“Because this trip will be long.”
I wish he’d switch to his regular kid questions about his activities. “I don’t know exactly.”
“You always know the answers, Mommy.”
“About some things but not about Daddy’s trip.”
“Let’s call him! Maybe he’s out of the airplane already.”
“We can’t,” I say, knowing this will only lead to the question I’m afraid to answer.
“Well, because he’s going to call us. But not today.”
“But he calls every day from every trip.”
Except during the last “trip” his father and I took. For the trial.Jordan was at my mother’s house, and I was the one who called and said Daddy was feeling sick from eating too much food on our grown-ups-only cruise.
“This trip is different, very different.”
“Will he bring us gifts?”
Tears begin to stream down my face. “No, no gifts,” I say with a cracking voice.
“Mommy?” He is suddenly next to me. “Why are you crying?” I instantly switch from crying to bawling, then I drop to the kitchen floor and hold him tightly. “Are you scared of something, Mommy?”
“Yes, I am.”
“Then we need to call Daddy right now! He’s brave and strong and isn’t scared of anything.”
“We can’t call him,” I remind him, then release him, get up,and lead him back to the table.
I ramble about things my boy doesn’t understand. Then I say, “We will see Daddy soon but not here at home. At another place where he has to live for … like until…” I imagine my sweet child, taller and smarter, and hopefully still happy, thenadd, “…until you are in third or fourth grade. Maybe before then.” Since kids don’t process time, this fails to clarify the situation. “We will be the ones to take trips in the car to see Daddy on some Sundays.”
“Is today Sunday, so we can see Daddy?”
I wish it was Sunday, one of those Sundays we spent in the backyard while our little boy splashed in his inflatable pool; one of those Sundays we ate sandwiches and watched the ducks in the park; or one of those rainy Sundays on the couch we watched a movie with talking animals for the tenth time.
Then, I curse those two Sundays when my husband tookphone calls, supposedly from his coworker, had long hushed conversations in the den, and learned of secret investment information that would change the course of our lives.
“No, sweetie, today’s Monday. It won’t be Sunday for many,many days.”
Adela M. Brito has published stories in The Acentos Review, Hieroglyph, Litbreak Magazine, and Moko Magazine, and her nonfiction, arts reviews, and poetry have appeared in Adelaide Literary Magazine, The Closed Eye Open, All About Jazz, Counterculture UK, Storyboard Memphis, and Underwood. She holds an MFA in Fiction.