Coming home from school, I found a note pinned on the front door. It read: BEWARE OF THE DRAGON. It was the same note that had been there for weeks. Still curious though, I stuck my head to the door listening for any sound coming from within, nothing.
Leaning forward I start to turn the handle to the left. The latch clicks allowing me to start to push the door open when all of a sudden, “Bubba!” the door is wooshed open and I fall flat on my face.
“Owww, geesh!” I yelled into an empty living room. I looked up, the house was empty. My eyes began searching for something that wasn’t there; my ears began ringing from the lack of noise that a month ago would’ve resounded from the upstairs bedroom, the room right next to mine, and my nose began to twitch searching for that one special scent that it would never find.
Throwing my backpack down on the floor, I proceeded to the kitchen, grabbing an apple from inside of the drawer. Taking a bite, I sprinted up the stairs to the master bedroom where I knew my mom would be, where she always was, sitting on the bay window looking out into the lake, the Lake of Sorrows is what I started to call it.
“Mom, did you eat today?” I asked. I answered my own question, seeing her nearly full bowl of now soggy cereal that I had made for her before I left for school. “Ma,” I said walking towards her, “Mom,” I grabbed her shoulders and turned her to face me.
Her beautiful strawberry blonde hair was tangled and crisp from the lack of care, and a few white hairs could be picked out here and there. Her hands were fragile like crumpled butterfly wings, and the skin was pale. Her face looked sunken in and her light hazel eyes had lost their glow. She wasn’t looking at me, it seemed as if she was looking through me, like her eyes were on the constant search for an unrecognizable file.
“Okay mom, let’s get you freshened up,” I said as I helped her into her massive master jet-stream bathroom. The warm water cascaded down into a swirling bubble bath of memories and loss. “Mom, your bath is ready,” I said. I turned around as she de-robed herself and stepped into the bath.
When I heard the water settle, I turned and faced her. Her eyes were closed, and when she spoke, it came out as a whisper, “Do you think they’re happy?”
“What?” I asked.
“Do you think they’re happy, Son?” she opened her eyes and looked straight at me with that familiar spark that I once loved.
“Yeah mom, I do. I know they’re happy. They’re together. Dad has a partner now,” I said.
“Well yes, I suppose he does, your little brother must’ve been so scared,” tears began to stream over her brittle cheeks. “It’s my fault, I left the door open, If I hadn’t-,” she cried seemingly struggling to breathe.
I put my hand on her shoulder. “Mom, it’s okay. You know how much he loved dragonflies, and the lake-”
“Yes son, the lake was the ‘land of the dragons,’” she hiccupped trying to recover. A slight giggle escaped from her mouth, a sound that enraptured my soul, a lost sound that I’d thought I’d never hear again.
“Yeah mom, that’s right, he was the most adventurous three-year old I ever knew,” I smiled as the memories of my little brother rushed over the floodgates refreshing my mind and reaching all the corners of my subconscious.
Tears poured out incessantly. No longer numb, I thought about my little brother’s death that happened just a month ago, an accident at the lake, and my father’s death, in that same lake three years before when his boat capsized during a freak storm. Sometime between the talking, the crying, and the thinking, my mother had gotten out of the bath and put on her robe, and she too was crying.
“I’m sorry, I’m so sorry, Son. I know I haven’t been there for you. I know it must be hard dealing with this, and me, all by yourself. I promise, never again,” my mom sobbed.
I ran over to my mother and sunk into her outstretched arms. That night, I went to sleep content and thinking about the events that had transpired in my life, and I knew I wasn’t lying when I told my mom that my brother and father were happy, together, wherever they were.
School was the same as always the next day, but when I came home, I felt like something was different. I walked up my front porch steps and realized with a jolt that the sign, BEWARE OF THE DRAGON had been taken down, and again, I put my ear to the door and listened, not sure what to expect when all of a sudden I heard the door click and open, and I fell into my mother’s arms.
“Welcome home son,” her smile revived my soul.
“I love you. Welcome back, Mom.”