Welcome Home

I know I'm late. In my battered car, I watch the second hand on my watch jump with every palpitation of my heart. The delicate metal of the second hand is trembling, as if it might get stuck. Mom doesn't like it when people are running late. It makes her usually patient nature run wild. A light is gleaming through the windows, yet nobody has bothered to look outside. They are probably busy. I cannot seem to convince myself to leave the car. Having to apologize will at least provide me with an opening line. For a moment I fear that I might have lost my voice. "Hello?" I hear myself asking. My voice sounds unfamiliar. 

Time seems to evaporate. In the rearview mirror I try to fix my hair, aware of how greasy it is. "Bazooka Joe" dad used to call me, when I would wear my hair with my bangs falling over one eye. Yet I have never found any resemblance between the reflection of the fragile young woman in the mirror and that chubby-cheeked little cartoon boy.

I'm not so sure anymore if today is the best day for me to break a two-year-long silence. It has taken a while to get their voices out of my head. I suddenly feel silly sitting in the car and staring at the house. There are coffee stains on the sleeve of my sweater. Why didn't I see them or notice the bleach spots on my jeans as I got dressed this morning? I tell myself that the hair and the stains don't matter... or the ringless finger on my left hand. By now they have probably given up hope that I will fulfill their expectations. 

It has been such a long journey, why rush in? "They miss you!" my brother told me on the rare occasions I got hold of him on the phone. The fact that he has noticed at all makes waves of guilt wash over me. He is not a very sentimental person. The idea of being missed and needed holds the promise of something warm and embracing, yet somehow smothering at the same time... 

Urged to take action by the rumbling in my stomach, I hastily collect my cell phone, my glasses and my wallet and stuff them into my purse. In one fell swoop, I exit the cozily heated car. Outside, it is so cold that I feel naked despite the itchy sweater I have on. My cheeks burn. I take one step at a time. Wiping the dried mud off my shoes, I ring the doorbell. Light floods the porch; I hear footsteps approaching. The door swings open and I'm blinded by the broad smile on my mom’s face as she flings her arms around me.

"Welcome home!”


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