Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Mid-Winter Slumber

This is a short story I had written last year.  I wrote it three months before my Tim was killed.  I took an experience going to a relative’s house in the middle of the night because someone died.  I modeled the little boy after Timmy.  I forgot all about it, until someone commented on it tonight on Facebook.

Mid-Winter Slumber
by Martin Connors on Tuesday, February 22, 2011 at 2:29am

He was sleeping peacefully, dreaming the innocent dreams of a toddler. When his mother woke him, he saw that she was wearing the same clothes as she had when she laid him down and they said the good night prayers. The room was still dark, the only light escaping from the hallway, past the door. His mother pulled back the covers gently shaking his shoulder and arms.

“Wake up buddy. We are going bye-byes.”

His father poked his head in the doorway. He was dressed with his winter coat. His mother lifted him up from the bed and the boy rested his head on her shoulder, wrapping his arms around her neck. She stopped to open the door a little more so she could pass through without bumping the boy or herself into it or the jamb.

“I don’t understand why we have to go. The baby was sleeping and it’s late.”

His father held out the boy’s winter coat, hat, and mittens. “Because she may not last until the morning; she was asking for him.”

Outside the room, against the wall, she stood the boy on a cedar chest. The stained and polished wood was set near the bedroom doors. It always felt strange when he stood in his footed pajamas; but he loved wearing them because he would imagine he was an astronaut or a deep sea explorer. His mother pulled his winter coat on and zipped it up. The knitted cap and mittens went on next.

“Mommy? Build snowmen?”

“No. We are going bye-byes. You’ll be sleeping almost as soon as we have to come back home.”

The boy and his parents left the apartment, out to their car parked on the street. As his mother carried him, he looked up at the sky. “Look stars!”

“Yes baby, stars.” She turned to adjust her stance, shifting the weight of her son to her hip as she opened the car door. As she turned and moved her son, the stars appeared almost kaleidoscopic.

He turned and pointed to another corner of the heavens. “Moon!”

His mother smiled. “Yes it’s the moon. Look at how pretty it is tonight.”

His mother laid him down on the back seat, as he continued looking up at the silvery disk of the moon, pulling a blanket over him and gave a quick kiss to his forehead. The boy felt a slight jolt as his father pulled the car away from the curb. He lay on his back, his eyes fixated on the moon as it hid behind the clouds and trees. He gurgled out “Twinkle Twinkle Little Star” and drifted off to sleep.

He dreamt he was on a trolley with his grandmother. He could hear the clicked and clacked as the wheels of trolley rolled on the tracks. She smiled at him and pointed to the corner newsstand where she would always buy him a Superman comic-book. They were on the corner and walked to the park. His grandmother would sit him on a bench, hand him a bologna sandwich and a small can of juice that was wrapped in aluminum foil. When he was done she would wipe his face and brush the crumbs from his lap. She stood up and took him by his hand to the newsstand to get the new Superman.

The dream didn’t last long, as the boy was woken again feeling his small body being lifted. He felt the bristle of his father’s chin and smelled his cologne. He felt his father hold in a loving, but firmer manner than his mother. He felt something strange, small patches of wetness on his father’s cheek. He drifted back to sleep.

He woke as his father laid him down on a sofa. He knew the sofa, the feel of the fabric, and the smell of his grandparent’s home. Around him he saw his aunts and uncles, an older cousin walked over to him and he smiled. She stood over him and made faces that made him giggle. “You’re my favorite cousin only because you’re too young to break my toys.”

He giggled again and smiled. He pulled his hands to his eyes and nose and rubbed them.

“The baby’s awake,” she said tapping his mother on her arm.

He rolled over to the edge and slid on the edge of the cushion until his feet touched the carpet. He walked over to his mother as she bent down to remove his jacket. He reached up for his cap, but it was being stuffed into one of the arms of his jacket. His mother turned to put the jacket on the coat post that stood by the front door.

He walked to the upright piano that was set in the far side of living room and pulled himself up on the bench. He loved touching the keys and striking them to hear the off tune notes. A man dressed in all black, except a small white patch at the collar of his shirt, came over to him and tussled his hair. “You are becoming a handsome young man. You certainly do look like your mommy.”

The boy looked at him and smiled, then eased off the bench similarly to how he lowered himself from the sofa. He walked past the dining room table to the three steps that lead to the stairway landing. His mother and father were talking to the man in black, his cousin sat in a chair playing with a small doll with red stringy hair that wore a blue dress with a white apron. His small hands clutched the railing posts as he climbed the stairs. The hall light was off, but a light came from the other end of the hallway.

Once at the top of the stairs, he could smell the scent of his grandmother’s favorite soap and flowers. He walked to the front bedroom and saw her lying in her bed. Her hands folded over her belly. A blanket covered her. The bathroom next to her bedroom was open and the light shone the door and was ambient enough for the boy to see his way.

He walked to his grandmother and climbed onto the bed by the footboard. He crawled quietly and gingerly. He cuddled up to her, pulling her arm away from her belly. His face nestled against her chest. Her hair always looked strange to him when it was down; he was so accustomed to it being tied in a bun. His grandmother was breathing strange, she sounded almost like when his father was asleep and snoring; but it was deeper and not as loud. He thought she was making raspberries and he copied her. He yawned, pulled the blanket up to allow himself to slip in and feel the warmth of her. He nestled closer and heard his grandmother’s snoring become quiet. As he drifted off to sleep, feeling safe, warm, and comfortable, he felt his grandmother shift and a gentle kiss on his forehead.

“I will always love you little man,” she whispered with pauses as she took in a breath.

He was sleeping peacefully, dreaming the innocent dreams of a toddler, when his mother woke him. He felt his mother lifted him up from the bed and the boy rested his head on her shoulder. He could hear her sobbing, and leaned away from her rubbing his eyes. He saw the tears rolling down her cheeks.
He put his finger to his lips. “Shh, you’ll wake mom-mom up.”

His mother began to cry heavier. She held him more tightly and he could feel the heaving of her chest as she cried. “Oh baby, she loved you.”

He looked down to make sure his grandmother was still asleep. He saw she had her hands once again placed over her belly. Her eyes were closed and the blanket pulled back to her chest. He saw that she was smiling as his mother carried him down the hallway to the stairs. The man in black stood at the foot of his grandmother’s bed moving his hand up then down, side to side. A small book was open in his other hand. The boy thought the man may be cold because he was now wearing a purple scarf.

Once in the living room, his aunts and uncles gathered near his mother. His father looked over, and the boy could see that his father’s eyes were red and puffy. “Where was he?”

“He was lying next to your mother.” His mother bounced him gently in her arms. “She must have gone in her sleep. But I think she must have waited for him to be here.” His mother kissed him on his head. She turned and from over his mother’s shoulder he could see himself in the mirror that hung over the piano. He giggled for a moment as he saw his grandmother walk towards him with her arms wide open. He blinked and she was gone. He pushed himself against his mother and looked around the room for her.

“Mom-mom?”

“Oh baby, mom-mom isn’t here.”

“Mom-mom come back.”

His mother pulled him closer and held him tightly. “Oh sweetness, if you only knew how much she loved you.”

“I love you mom-mom. Bye-bye.”