She’d been gone since we were 10. Car crash. The roads were icy and the salt trucks hadn’t been out that evening; she hit a patch of black ice on her way home from work. It was no one’s fault.
It was a mantra that I’d memorized to dispense anytime anyone asked me about my mother. My father was always telling me and Indigo how much we looked like her. If it hadn’t been for all the pictures of our parents strewn across the house, I would have had to take his word on it; after a few years it had been hard to recall her face in my mind’s eye. Harder to remember the smell of the perfume that scented her clothes, the warmth and pressure of her hugs. I clung to the sound of her voice, recorded forever in our old home videos. I remembered spending particularly harder afternoons playing one snippet on a loop; Christmas morning. Our father had been working extra hours much to mom’s dismay – all she wanted was to come home to a house with her husband and children. He’d endured all her irritation to continue saving up for his gift for her that year: the honeymoon they never got Sunlit Tides. As she smothered him with kisses – and Indigo and I exclaimed in disgust in the background – you could hear her say clear as day, with a voice like melting honey, “I love you!”
When I needed it the most, I pretended that I love you was for me.
Perhaps that was the hardest part of leaving Brindleton Bay: feeling like I was leaving my mother’s spirit behind as well. Even Indigo felt the pressure of leaving our dad in this house alone. Sure, she’d be two hours away, but she’d be so caught up with course work and social activities, she’d probably only make it home once a month. But I knew my mother. She would have been appalled to see us so worried over her; “It’s a mother’s job to worry, it’s a child’s job to be a child.” We certainly weren’t children anymore, but we would always be hers. No more worrying. We would make our mother proud.
Ivy: Come on. Get going. Mariah is will be heated if you keep her waiting.
Indigo: [chuckles] True. Alright, I’ll be back in a bit. Text me if you want me to pick something up before I get back.
Ivy: Will do. Tell Mariah I said hi. And no more tears.