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My mother shook me awake violently. “Get up!” she cried. My eyes fluttered awake, everything swirling around. I blinked several times as my vision focused—making out her red tear-stained face. Shaking, I pulled myself up in the brightly lit room. Crashing pitter-patters of the rain filled my ears and lightening flashed. The large wooden clock centered in my room struck clumsily.
It was now four in the morning of a chilly December day. I shook my head to allow my thoughts to descend back into the present.
“What’s going on?” I asked, rubbing my shoulders. She walked quickly across the winding hallway. I sleepily following and stood next to her in the kitchen.
“He’s been standing outside for the past two hours. Please go and try to talk to him,” she pleaded.
My eyes opened wide as dozens of questions popped into my head. Who? What? Where? What’s going on?
Her eyes narrowed on me until I dumbly stumbled to the door in the adjacent laundry room, leading to the garage. Slowly, my hands fumbled at the doorknob and turned it. I peered through the crack and squinted to see a large silhouette leaning on the gleaming Dodge Durango. My legs forced me to take two steps forward while letting go of the doorknob. The door rushed and slammed behind me, causing the silhouette’s head to turn. After a few seconds, he turned back to face the street. He had been standing at the edge of the garage: half inside, and half outside. The rain continued to pour as the sky had begun to transform from black into a dark purple.
“Idi u ku?u,” his voice sounded. “Go inside”.
“Why are you out here?”
I never really knew why I spoke in English with my father at times like these.
“Idi u ku?u,” he repeated.
I stepped in front of him and saw his face had turned a pale white. His eyes were blank and distant, probably re-envisioning the slow motion of soldiers dying, the blast of the grenade releasing thick grey smoke that filled the nose with the scent of metal and blood. He probably envisioned his chest heaving, gasping for air in the dense thicket, and probably saw his last images: the ditch, the sky, and his good friend, soon to die saving his life.
It seemed to me my father was now lost in a swirl of memories. It wasn’t always like this—this was one of those days that he remembered. He turned to face the street again, repeating, “Go inside”. Until this moment, I had remained quiet, unsure of what to do or say.
“Come inside. It’s cold out here.”
He remained quiet.
“I’ll make you some tea. It’s…. wet outside,” I said stupidly.
He mumbled, “It’s colder outside than inside.”
This being years ago, I had not understood what this meant.
His voice became louder. “Go inside”.
I trembled and slowly backed inside. After re-entering the house, I glanced to see my mother sitting on the coach.
“What’s he doing?” she asked quickly.
I stood awkwardly at the center of the room.
“He’s still outside. He won’t come in.”
She angrily stood up, opened the door, and slammed it as she walked outside. I continued to stand, unsure of what to do. I strained my ears to hear through the walls but, after only hearing muffled pieces of heated conversation, was unsuccessful.
It seemed as if hours had passed before my mother and father went back inside the house, flustered and worn. They sat down on the couches, facing each other, and waited for me to play my part. Strategically, I went to the freezing kitchen, set the tea to boil, and scrimmaged to find the two good cups at an exhibition of the Titanic. The two cups, porcelain and blue, gleamed in the dim light.
A still quiet silence fell upon the room as my father sat straight, staring off in the distance; meanwhile my mother covered her eyes with shaking hands. A minute passed by until bubbling tea was served and I sat near my mother. She lifted her face and told me to return to my room. As I reluctantly left, I heard a quiet conversation ensue. For the remainder of the morning, I leaned against the wall in my room and thought.