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I watched her closely, as I usually did. Not in aweird, glaring way, just from the corner of my eye. I never want to be far fromanyone, despite what my face might suggest. Watching is my way of staying near. Iespecially never want to leave her. Every time I look at her, I see someonedifferent, as though she were maturing right before my eyes while I'm stucklooking and acting the same as when I was 12.
There's something about herthat demands my attention, in a tragic sort of way. Like watching a person fallin slow motion. You want to reach out and stop him from hitting the pavement -throw a pillow in his path - but then, you don't want to get involved. I alwaysacted like a bystander in her life, or at least that was how I wanted her totreat me. I wanted to be aloof, out of the way, uncaring. I couldn't reach thisgoal, though; I grew up caring.
In cases like these, riding in a car to aforeign destination, time is the enemy. Whether you are having fun, trying tomake the best of the moments remaining or incredibly bored, time never does asyou wish. Between glancing at her and the rapidly moving asphalt, I looked on astime ticks away.
"Is there something wrong?" she asked softly,raising a questioning eyebrow, briefly taking her eyes off the road to look atme. I would have
answered, had I known a way to convey every distressingthought floating around my mind in only one sentence. All I did, though, wasshake my head and wonder if she would believe the nonverbal lie. She smiled, morelike a wary smirk, really. She used to have a different smile, one I used tolove, back when I wasn't so old or smart-mouthed. Smiles are wonderful things, ifdone properly. There is no need for perfect lips or fantastic teeth when truehappiness is reflected in a smile. That's how she smiles. Smiled. Pasttense.
She is, by no means, the epitome of greatness. I don't think manyteenagers would openly admit that their parents are the best people they know. Mymother and I have had our fair share of fallouts over the years, often stemmingfrom her stubbornly rejecting the fact that I am growing up. Sad, yes, but it isthe truth. I think sometimes the truth is like time.
"You're tooquiet. There's something wrong, I can tell," she persists.
"I'mjust thinking, that's all." Thinking. Thinking about how all my closewatching will be in vain because soon all the sand in the hour glass will run tothe bottom.
"That's a first. Don't hurt yourself," she laughed.Not a tinkling, melodious laugh, but the laugh of someone who has seen a lifetimeof hardships. Someone who has pushed through her existence by sheerwill.
"I'll try not to."
"I hate it when you're soserious. You're no fun."
"Sorry." Am I really sorry? Whatreason do I have to apologize? For loving her so much that I want to savor theminutes we have left in reverent silence? For missing her even before wepart?
"We'll be there soon." I know.
"Are yougetting excited?" I
"Years, actually." She laughed again. Nervous,this time. Afraid that I meant all the shallow things I had said. Every once in awhile, I was, too.
We lapsed into a thoughtful silence. Or maybe aremorseful one, for the death of this chapter of our mini saga.
"Willyou miss me?" she asked after a few minutes.
"No, I won't." You're right, Iwill.
"I guarantee it. Just wait a fewdays."
"Doubtful." She smiled. She knew I was lying. Shewas only humoring me. She did that a lot.
The car slowly came to a stop infront of the building that I was leaving her to go to. We got out and I began tounpack my new life.
"Well, I guess this is it," I said, shovingmy hands uneasily in my pockets when we were done. She leaned against the carnonchalantly.
"I suppose so." She held out her arms and wehugged, briefly. Someone could have been watching, after all.
"Callme soon," she whispered into my ear.
"Okay." With a small,self-composing sigh, she got back into the car.
"I love you,"she called out the window.
"Yeah." I gave a half-hearted wave asshe drove off. I stood there a moment, letting reality sink in.
"Ilove you too, Mom."