You hear the click as the new lock settles into place behind you. The words being spoken come at you like a tornado with no sound. Your mind so loud with your own jumbled thoughts, nodding yes is all you can do. Feeling the weight of the bag hanging off your shaking shoulder you wonder if it holds what you will need.
You wait…You lean against the old reliable truck trying to stop the spin of ideas flying through your head when you realize the gas gauge reads empty. Gazing at the horizon you recognize the outline of the faded four-door sedan break free from the glare of the sun. As it drives slowly towards you the protective walls your mind created start to crumble; allowing the once contained ominous feelings fill your soul with dread.
Your mind is blank when you hear your son’s laughter coming from the sedan. He smiles at the inside joke only his father understands. The vacant look in your eyes is a tell he learned months ago. As you try to explain, the reassurance in your voice fades with each word.
Your wife smiles at you through the rear-view mirror. The split second eye contact shared says more than words ever will. Driving away your mind becomes stuck in a flood of “what if’s” that cannot be answered. You wonder which decision started this path you are quickly sliding down. Hoping for the direction to change soon, you pray you are not wandering in the wilderness.
The knock on the window jars your mind back. Watching him open the door you wonder what is going on in his head. His smile still flashes effortlessly, but his eyes show wisdom well past his years. You flash back to a picture of your home cluttered with possessions collected over time. Anything of real value had been sold months ago in a futile effort to keep your head above water. Your eyes start to burn holding back the tears. Hoping he does not hear the despair in your voice you ask him about his day.
The rhythmic tick coming from the clock is interrupted with a noisy crackle followed by the voice of your principal seamlessly rambling about nothing. The ringing bell is always a welcomed sound. A friend asks if you can hang out on Sunday. You reply with variation of a story you often use for an excuse. You grab the faded backpack and let it settle on your shoulders. The weight feels heavy as you walk out the door into the bright sunlight.
Everything you know in your momentary walk on earth has changed. The home you spent most of your life in is gone. You move to a new state and a new school. Family you do not really know start to become part of your world. Time passes and the laughter you grew up with is replaced with a deafening silence. Decisions are made in low whispers behind closed doors. The move comes.
The attempt to keep you at the same school becomes difficult with the added forty five-minute drive. The struggle to find gas money is becoming pointless. Their eyes sadden, as your grades drop, knowing it is their fault. You only see your friends at school. Watching them jump on bikes, headed for the park, you think about what you are missing. You walk towards the faded sedan thinking back to the chaos of the apartment you left this morning. You start to wonder when that unavoidable move will happen again…