Chapter 4

That night she did not sleep.  She lay in her perfectly made twin bed and stared at the popcorn ceiling of her apartment bedroom for hours.  When her alarm finally rang, she sighed with relief.  Although she knew her thoughts would be haunted by the “what ifs” of her mother’s reappearance, she had resigned herself to have one last peaceful day and planned to execute her routine flawlessly.

And that is just what she did.

At 6:30 the alarm rang.  She brushed her teeth at precisely 6:32; her hair was brushed and pulled into its tight ponytail by 6:41; she dressed in her beige pant suit with a white blouse at 6:45; and was in her tidy kitchen making medium roast black coffee and plain oatmeal at 6:50.  She checked the weather, and carefully locked the door.  She arrived to the office at exactly 7:30, walked directly to her desk – avoiding as much small talk as possible – and began her work day.  It was a relieve to live her routine, but as the day progressed thoughts of her mother’s visit drowned all others.  At 5:00 PM, she logged off her computer, put her paperwork in the blue file folder, and left with an overwhelming sense of dread.  

As she walked up the maroon carpeted stairs of her apartment building, she already sensed change.  The air was laced with strong floral perfume; strange music drifted down the stairwell.  Reaching her door, she heard her mother’s boisterous voice talking as though there were already someone else in the apartment.  

She took a deep breath turned the knob of the door and walked into her usually tranquil home.  Instantly, her senses were bombarded. The smell of perfume struggled to out do the smell of incense, but both were strangled by odors of spices wafting from the kitchen.  Music rang loud, her mother’s voice was rapidly upon her, something simmered on the stove, the windows were thrown wide open letting in a noisy breeze.  She saw her mother’s bright paisley luggage scattered throughout the main room, her mother’s grey-white hair with turquoise and purple feathers woven into it, and she swore she saw some sort of fur on the couch but couldn’t determine its source.  

This sensory assault was not complete until her mother’s arms engulfed her in a bear hug before she was even able to take three steps into the apartment and place her keys on the hook to the left.  She was surprised by how thin and brittle her mother’s arms felt around her, but the thought was catapulted from her mind as her legs were attacked by something jumping and squealing in delight.

“Oh dear, no, no, no,” she screamed in her head.  Her perfectly tidy apartment was going to experience enough trauma from her mother, but a dog, too!  She was certainly not prepared for that.

“Oh my, Birdie! You look so wonderful and look little Pepe loves you already!” her mother’s chatter erupted into a storm unlikely to waver.

-M.R. Gavin


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