I texted him several times and called his cell, leaving increasingly angry messages. I was only marginally concerned, since he was at a neighbor’s house, but all the same, it was a weeknight, and just because he doesn’t have to get up in the morning, the same doesn’t go for his parents. At 10:40, I gave in and called our neighbor’s home, just hoping I wasn’t waking anyone up.
Our neighbor, my friend, assured me that the boy was fine. He was enjoying a late night swim on a warm summer night. She asked if I needed him home now, and I said no, but that I wanted him home soon. When he finally arrived, he was surprised that I was upset with him. After all he was just across the street–what could happen to him?
I explained to him that it wasn’t enough that he was across the street, because as far as I knew, he was only hypothetically across the street. Because he didn’t answer my texts, or my calls, I didn’t know for sure where he was. Although he has always been a rule follower, there’s always a first time, and after all, he broke the rule about coming home on time.
And what if he was walking home in the dark, and some drunken idiot ran him over and didn’t stop, or was attacked by an angry deer. It could happen. What if he tripped on the hill, and was lying in a ditch? He said he’d call me if he needed help. Right. NOW he’d call.
I explained to him that the moment he was born, a worry switch went off in my head. I will never know a peaceful moment again in my life, and it’s all his fault. This is why he can’t keep forgetting Mother’s Day. I suffer, child. I s-u-f-f-e-r. I have earned some chocolate.
Did I mention that his father was already asleep?
All he had to do is call and say he wanted to stay longer. That’s why we got him a cell phone. I would have said yes–he has a key, he could just let himself in. He did take his key with him, right?
Blink. Blink. “Right.”
Next time, I’ll let the deer eat him.
Words by J. B. Everett
Photograph by Leo Reynolds © 2006 Creative Commons