‘Slow down. Why are you always in such a rush?’
But it was too late. Jake was already out the door, screen door slapping the doorframe behind him. Becky looked along the hallway, scattered with an array of socks and shoes. It didn’t seem to matter that she asked Jake to put things away or even just into his room; his stuff seemed to materialise everywhere in the house.
She sighed and started to gather an armful of his belongings, her mind skipping to the day ahead; what needed to be done and what she needed to pick up for dinner. Thursdays were meant to be her catch up day, but they seemed to fill up with the needs of everyone else around her. She felt like she was always picking up the slack.
Waiting in line at the supermarket, Becky remembered that Jake had asked her to collect something from the library. He’d given her a slip of paper and she’d tucked it into her wallet. She’d been surprised that he even used the local library as it was rare to see him with a book but maybe it was a game or DVD, or something for a school project. When she’d asked him about it he was already on his way out of the room, and all she’d got was a brief thanks and a smile.
As she flicked through her wallet, she saw the photo of Jake taken on the day he started school. He was so little, his eyes bright with excitement at meeting his new friends. She’d been terrified at the thought of everything that could go wrong, but he’d been full of the possibilities. On the walk to school he’d chattered away, pointing at clouds and finding shapes that she couldn’t discern. It was all she could do not to cry, and she didn’t want to upset him.
‘But Mum, can’t you see that cloud there? It looks just like us. Like you and me.’
She’d forced out a laugh and gripped his hand tighter.
It had been a long time since they’d held hands. He was too grown up to need her hand now, even though she missed the comfort of his.
At the library she handed the slip over and the librarian searched the shelf of books, CDs and DVDs held in reserve. Becky passed her library card over, explaining that the reserve was for her son. The librarian smiled and checked out the item. It was a large hardback book with a gorgeous cover. Becky picked it up and felt its weight as she hugged it to her chest.
When Jake arrived home that afternoon she was waiting for him on the front step.
‘Hey, Mum. What’re you doing?’ He dropped his bag and settled on the step beside her.
‘Nothing. Just taking a moment.’
She felt his warmth as he sat beside her. Jake glanced at her then leaned back and looked up at the sky, just like she was doing. He was usually all fidgeting energy, but she could hear his breath steady, matching hers.
She thought of the book on Jake’s desk, ‘A Guide to Cloudspotting’. She had wondered if Jake wasn’t the only one who needed to slow down a little and enjoy the moment. They sat quietly for a couple of minutes, faces upturned.
Jake pointed at a cloud shifting along the sky. ‘Definitely a dog.’
Becky grinned. ‘Definitely.’
Inspired by Discover Prompts – April writing prompts
[Photo: a cloud]