My wife fought January’s gift of cold by easing down into a steamy bath this morning. My eyes still closed, I heard her sigh with relief as she slipped into bubble-filled lavender water hot enough to leave her red as a beet but her skin smooth and supple after a long, soothing soak.
As she won the war of comfort, I battled waking. Sleep was an elusive mistress last night. 3:24 laughed back at me the last time I eyed the clock. No, it’s not what you think. My mind worked overtime. Thought spawned thought, and despite my best efforts, I could not shut it down. No off-switch for the thinker.
Raised voices, a volley of accusations, an argument floated into frame. Was that this morning or just remnants of a dream?
The engine fired up. No, not yet. Damn it. Once the engine runs, it moves.
I surrendered. Groggy, limbs aching and eyes burning from lack of sleep, I sighed, turned over and threw back the covers, and grabbed my phone off the nightstand.
As I read email propped up in our bed, my daughter walked in and handed me a sheet of red construction paper with scotch tape slapped on the top. My son’s roller coaster handwriting warned me of something but I couldn’t make it out. I popped up and headed to the gray light streaming in through the master bath windows.
I held up the paper and read:
“Matt’s runaway,” my daughter said.
My wife stared wide-eyed at me looking for answers. I shook my head affirmatively and handed her the note.
Bath water swished behind me as I dashed out of the room and down the hallway.
Only an echo replied.
I ducked in the downstairs guest bedroom. Nothing. I scrambled to the kitchen. Nothing. Sliding down the hardwoods in socks, I reached the end of the hallway that opened up to the living room, formal dining and entry way. I scanned the rooms. Nothing moved.
As I turned to run up the front stairway, movement from the long vertical windows framing either side of the front door caught my eye. I turned and saw an elbow in black plodding up the front walk.
I opened the front door and our 12-year-old son, a backpack slung over his heavy black coat, looked back at me.
“I needed to clear my head,” Matt exhaled, his breath dancing in the distance between us before vanishing.
That’s enough for tonight. Tomorrow’s another light. From one sojourner to another, all the best.