Copyright is held by the author.
WHEN I come downstairs Mommy’s already dressed. You know why this is funny? Because I almost always get up before she does. I get up at quarter to eight because my school starts at half past eight. I go to Emily Carr Public School and I’m in the second grade.
Mommy’s in a suit she only wears when she has job interviews, in the colour of whole grain bread. It was before Christmas when I last saw her in the outfit.
Good morning Mommy, I say, and try to kiss her lips, but Mommy tilts her head and I end up kissing her cheek. During the day I always kiss Mommy’s lips, only Mommy can kiss my lips, but in the morning, she always tilts her head. Onion breath, she says, but it’s not onion, I know. It’s like fish out of a muddy pond. It’s just coffee, I say to her. You look nice. Did you buy Olay?
Not yet, she says.
You should, I say. It will make you beautiful. I saw it on TV. I promise her to buy an Olay cream, and that Jell-O thing that removes hairs from shins.
Breakfast? She asks. I can make some pancake for you.
But it’s not Sunday, I say. Mommy and I have breakfast together only on Sundays. During the week I eat a bowl of Rice Krispies while she’s still in bed. Sometimes I feed Sarah too. Sarah is my sister. She’s four. But you have to be careful because she has a nut allergy. I do the dishes too. I mean I put the bowls and plates in the dishwasher. Daddy usually leaves the bowl he used in the sink and leaves home, at what time I don’t know, so I put it in the dishwasher too.
Every morning there are empty bottles on the dishwasher. One wine bottle and some beer bottles. Mommy loves red wine and drinks one bottle every night. Sometimes she drinks yellow wine too.
But today, the bottles are gone. I smooth the surface of the machine. The butter sizzles on the cooktop. Ma, the butter, I say. But she doesn’t seem to hear what I say. She’s at the table, looking at the air.
Not many things are on the counter top either. It’s made of nice dark stone, smooth and shiny. Granite, Mommy once said, is the kind of stone. On it is a wrinkled yellow balloon.
That’s the balloon I saw at school some days ago. I was inside, waiting for the bell ring. Through the glass pane on the door I saw outside, Jason’s Mommy and Alisha’s Mommy were there for the pickup, and my Mommy was there too. She was playing with Sarah, with the yellow balloon. I heard no sound, it was like a TV with the sound off, watching Mommy and Sarah. They seemed so happy. So happy in the world without me.
Mommy still doesn’t move, so I pour the pancake batter into the frying pan. It sizzles. Do we still have maple syrup?
Mommy stands up and comes over to me. She crouches down and now her eyes are below mine. I like it when she does it. I like it when Mommy’s eyes are close to mine.
Look, she says. I have to go somewhere when Sarah wakes up.
Where? I say.
Kind of a far place, she says.
Where? I ask again. Will you get some Timbits for me on the way back?
Maybe, she says. You’ll listen to your Daddy, will you?
But Daddy’s never home.
I’ll get Ms. Davis in the afternoon. She’s going to do the pickup.
Are you going to downtown? I ask.
I’ll come back as soon as possible and pick you up, okay?
Will you get some Timbits on the way back? I ask again.
Yes. And you’ll be a good boy till I come back, will ya?
I nod. There’s the burnt smell of flour but she doesn’t rise. I look into the hall and there stands a suitcase. It’s not the grey one she used to have. It’s a red one and I’ve never seen it before. It has a name tag, also red. Maybe she’s taking a flight; she said she’d be going far away.
Will you come back by Thursday? It’s Dance-a-thon and I’ll be dancing a Hindu dance.
I’ll see what I can do, she says. Maybe I can get Ms. Davis for this too. I’ll try.
Try means it won’t happen. I know it but I don’t say it to her.
But maybe she doesn’t mean it. She’s not going far away or calling Ms. Davis or even trying. She’ll be home with Timbits tonight, onion breath, and empty bottles tomorrow. Just today may be different, because it is April Fools’ Day.