The Window by Maria Fokas
“This is where I was born; in this very room”, he said, as he packed his things. I had lost count of how many times he had told me. She sat waiting, confined to her sofa bed. He put the last piece of clothing in his rucksack, a neatly folded shirt by her tiny brittle hands, hours before. He took his coat from the chair and put it on.
In a fragile voice, she whispered, “When will I see you again?”
“I haven’t even left yet, and you want to know when I’m coming back?”, he said in a hollow laugh.
I stood by the door, out of their way.
“Ok, mama, I’m done now,”.
He sat down beside her. She took his hand and held it tightly. I saw her smile, as he kissed her cheek.
“I will be home in twenty hours; I will call you then mama”, he promised.
She shook her head. Twenty hours was a very long time for her.
“Don’t you worry about me mama, you take care of yourself; you hear me?”.
“At our age, you never know about tomorrow”, she said, as her eyes caught mine.
We walked to my car and put his rucksack in the back seat. The mountains surrounding his home were hidden by winter clouds but he could still see them; every path he walked, every rock he climbed; he could still see it all. He shut his eyes, and tears rolled down his cheeks.
Not much talking on our way to the airport. I thought about my granny sitting on her sofa bed, alone.
The airport was cold and busy and loud, but not loud enough to silence those thoughts that wouldn’t go away. I wondered too when he would be back; hoping it be sooner than later. He made some more promises, and then we said our goodbyes. I watched him as he disappeared into the crowds of people going home.
Photograph: Marko Tabak/https://stocksnap.io/
Michael Ortega – It’s hard to say goodbye