I pushed from the table, making my way to my parents’ room. The door was cracked open. I gripped the knob, pushed it further open and peeked my head in. Mom was curled up on her side, sleeping peacefully. I didn’t want to interrupt her rest, but I also didn’t want to be away from her anymore. So, I did the only thing I could think of; I crawled onto my dad’s side and curled up next to her.
There had been many summer afternoons when she was sick the first time that I would refuse to play outside and just spent them by my mom’s side in their bed. I took in my mom’s face, how pale and drawn in it seemed since the last time I was here. Her hair was void of its usual shine and fullness. I brushed a few strands off her forehead and tucked them behind her ear. She moved at my touch, and I yanked my hand back to my side. Her eyes slowly blinked open, and she gave me a tired smile.
“Hey, sweetie, when did you get here?” Her voice came out rough. She sat up and took a sip of water from the glass on the bedside table.
“Around eleven or so.” I watched as she looked over at the clock.
“It’s already four-thirty? How did I sleep so long?” She raised her arms over her head and stretched back and forth. Color slowly started to return to her face. “It must have been because I couldn’t sleep last night. Binge watching TV shows has been my thing for the last few weeks.” She gave me a smile then threw her arms around me. “It’s good to see you.”
“You too,” I murmured into her shirt. Was she really staying up late and was that why she was looking weaker? Or was she just putting on a front so I wouldn’t worry so much about her? My mind chose to believe what she said was true. It was easier that way.
“So, tell me, how’s school, life?” She asked me this like we didn’t have weekly phone conversations.
“Midterms are next week. Really looking forward to them being over with. Work is…work. I smell like coffee daily, and it’s starting to lose its enjoyable scent.” I put on my best frown face, because I have always loved the smell of coffee, but it has started to wear on me.
“Don’t worry. Next summer, you’ll have some big fancy graphic design job, and coffee will be your love again.” Mom smiled. “Speaking of love…” She trailed off and gave me a wink.
“Oh come on! Not you too!” I threw my arms up in defeat. There was no way I wasn’t going to spill every single detail about Eli to my mom. She knew me better than that, and by the way she was adjusting her pillows behind her making herself comfortable, she knew I was going to tell her. She eyed me expectantly. “Noah has a big mouth.”
Mom laughed. “Tell your mother all about Eli Park.”
“Jeez! He gave last names and everything? Did you do a background check too?”
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