October 25, 2013

Stepped out


  The hardest part about going home are the memories. It never quite matches up to what you remember. In my case, it is made doubly difficult because I'm not quite in the same world I started in.

  Two weeks ago, I woke up in my bedroom and found that all the sports poster my older brother had given me were gone. They had been replaced by various star 'scapes and modern space craft. I ran out of my room and smack into my mother.
   "Mom, where are all my posters?" My voice cracked a little bit for old times sake. She leaned into the doorway and looked into my room.
   "Right on the walls where you hung them?"
   "Those are not mine. I want all of the posters Brad gave me after he headed off to State." She did not respond. "You know what I'm talking about. All his Steelers posters, basketball players, you know!"
   "Hon, you've never cared about sports posters. And who is Brad?"   That was when I knew something was up. My breath caught. Brad was older than me by three years. He had been at State College attending classes for several years now. Dad had even taken over his room as an office by this point. We kept a bed in there for the frequent visits home for laundry.

   "What do you mean, who is Brad? Mom, this joke has gone beyond funny. What is going on?"
   "I could ask you the same thing, Todd. I'm not joking with you at all. Have you had a bad dream?" She reached out and felt my forehead. I jumped when she touched me and ended up taking a step backwards in surprise. I reached out and turned on the hall light. We both blinked in the bright illumination. I turned and saw the family pictures from last Christmas on the wall.

   There was only Mom and I in the picture. I turned quickly in the hallway to the other doors. Brad's old room was opposite mine, and I wasted no time in opening the door. There was a craft table and cloth bolts in the room, with a sewing machine and stand up against the wall. I moved to the master bedroom door next to mine, and saw a room that was neatly organized with a basket of cleanly folded laundry sitting on a queen bed. There was usually a tie, or a couple of pairs of boxers on the floor. Stepping in and opening the closet that my father usually used, I found only dresses and womens slacks. A shoe rack held several pairs of pumps and a pair of high heels. Mom cleared her throat behind me.
   "Todd, you need to talk to me right now." She took me by the shoulders and guided me out of her room and down the hall. My jaw just worked, but no sound came out. I just kept going over what I saw in those three rooms in my head. I finally realized I was sitting down at the table in the kitchen with the sunlight hitting the side of my face.
   "Here. I know it's still early for this, but I think a little hot tea might help you. You've had a very intense dream and need to refocus yourself a little. What would you like for breakfast? I'll fix anything, within reason." She smiled at me. I still didn't quite know how to respond.
   "Give me a minute to sip this." I lifted the cup and sniffed it. Herbal tea, one of Mom's favorite blends. Okay, this matches what I remember. I know I don't drink it as often as she does, but it is good tea. After a couple of sips, I lowered the cup back down. The table is right, the cup was one I could remember from the cupboard complete with a little chip from when I had put it in the dishwasher too close to other stuff. Mom still has words with me on that one. "I know, would you fix me some eggs and toast? Might as well have a hot meal if you are offering." She looked at me for a second, and nodded.
   "You do realize, this is the more difficult way to ask me to fix breakfast for you?" I smiled at that. Mom usually has to run off to work most days just as I'm getting up.

Wait.

   This is the point where that little voice in the brain starts talking again. The one that wants to ask all the pointed and hurtful questions in an argument. The one that wants to argue against the status quo. And it was saying "Find out more. What is different." I remembered playing frisbee in the back yard with Brad. I would help Dad with the yard chores on Saturday mornings. There were many more things that I was still certain were missing and I wanted to know why.
   "Here you go." A plate was slid in front of me. Scrambled eggs, wheat toast with butter. Pepper and salt on the eggs. I looked up.
   "But you usually make me sunny side up, over well." The look on her face sealed my determination to figure out more. I forced a small smile, picked up my fork and tucked in.

Something has changed. Several somethings. I needed to know why.

Posted by: Tom Tjarks at 05:36 PM | No Comments | Add Comment
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