“Mom! Time to go,” shouts my son, James, from his bedroom upstairs. His frenetic search for swim gear begins. I hear him opening and slamming closed his closet doors and dresser drawers.
Of course, we’re going to be late again, I think as I stand at the bottom of the stairs. It’s just going to piss me off even more, if I have to tell him one more time to put his gear bag in the mud room downstairs.
“Why didn’t you give me more lead time?” I shout back at him. I return to the kitchen and finish packing the lunch bags.
What about me? What do I need?
Along with some cheese sticks and crackers, I add my laptop, thermos, and books to my back pack. I force a partially-used roll of paper towels into the pack before zipping it closed.
“Where’d you put them? Where are they?” My son accuses me from his bedroom where he is throwing around clothes and other items in his futile search.
What happened to our rule not to yell at each other from other rooms? I think with irritation.
“What are you yelling about? What ‘them’?” I yell back at him from the mudroom downstairs.
I hear the pounding of heavy feet on the carpeted floor upstairs and his fruitless search in another room.
“Get out of my room! Mom! James is tearing up my room!” My daughter, Jennifer shreiks. With pounding steps, he runs out of her room and down the carpeted stairs.
“My flips,” he says in a distracted voice, as he enters the mudroom where I am sitting. “Where are they? I saw you wearing them yesterday,” he blurts at me. I grab my windbreaker off one of the hooks along the wall.
“I don’t have them. You must have put them somewhere,” I respond, sitting down on the bench to put on my shoes. My son hovers over me.
“No. You must’ve put them somewhere and forgot them. Mom. Think!” He counters.
Absorbed in the act of tying my shoes, I cannot even think to remember.
“Go check your bedroom, again,” I say. And, I add to his retreating shape, “Don’t talk to me, your mother like that.”
Not hearing me, he runs upstairs. I step into the garage wondering if I am the guilty one who lost his footwear. Outside the mudroom door, I find the behemoth flips stiff and cold from being in the garage all night. I toss them onto the floor of the passenger side of the car and re-enter the mudroom.
“We’ve gotta go. I’ll just go barefoot,” he says as he suddenly brushes past me launching himself towards the garage.
“I found them. They’re in the car. Remember, you need to bring your running shoes, too,” I say just as he steps out into the garage. He hurtles around with an annoyed look on his face before walking back into the mudroom.
Page one excerpt from Road Noise Short Stories To Thrill and Chill 2016 © Belinda A. Allen