Friday, January 11, 2008

blue rooms

I wake up happy, thinking he'll be home today. It's been twenty-one days without him. He calls me up first thing. Rustling in the background, talk of sticky-tape and some sort of "special message" he has to stick in my card, presumably my birthday one. I tell him I can't wait to see him at lunch-time. We talk a bit more, then his father gets on the phone.
"So we’ll see you tomorrow at one then."
"You mean today at one, right," I say.
"No, I thought it was tomorrow."
He checks his emails. Friday 11th.
"Sorry," he says.
"It’s okay," I say. I’m choking back sobs of disappointment but I don't want them to rush their journey back. I speak to my boy again. He whispers things and then I clearly hear, "I love you very much, Mum."
"I love you very much too, little angel," I croak. "We’ll have a little party tomorrow, just you and me, okay?"
I tell him I'm going to go down to Donut King later and buy him a dozen mini iced donuts, a rare treat. He loves to ration them out over a few days: "And this time Mum you can have the caramel one with green sprinkles, and I'm going to have the pink one with yellow sprinkles! And then there's, two, three, four, five, no, six left!" (They make good incentives, too, those donuts: "Young man, if you don't stay in your bed, I'm going to have to eat the rest of those bloody donuts while you're asleep tonight, OK?" Or, "I’ll give them to the cat!" Or, "I’ll put them straight in the bin!"--all work.)
I hope he can't tell I'm crying. His father tells me they’re going walking in the Blue Mountains today and I can only think of the cliffs.
After we hang up, I cry some more. I remind myself there are worse things than him coming home a day late. I pick up the paint roller and dip it in Ocean Grove, the same color I used for his room, and grimly set to work on the last unpainted wall in the study.
Yesterday had unexpectedly happy moments and flew by. But today, boy, today has taken forever...