4:30 am and the alarm sounds.
My hand finds the clock and the bed room falls into silence.
I sit up as the cat complains about the hour.
In the darkness my hand finds my bathrobe as I make my way to the shower.
In the dim blue light of the stove clock,
I see three suitcases standing with their handles up,
looking like toddlers reaching up for mother’s arms.
The quiet of the house is slightly disturbed as I switch on the lights and fan.
I wonder who hears the water as the shower begins to heat the room.
At the mirror I put a new blade in the razor.
It’s Sunday and I always start the week with a new blade.
I don’t need to shave, the kids won’t care,
but despite the early hour, it’s Sunday and time for a clean shave.
When I emerge the house is quietly alive.
Children dressed, looking for socks and shoes.
Gran making breakfast burritos for the road.
Uncle is enlisted to find the missing socks,
the ones there were right there, “I swear.”
I am the driver.
I run the check list, time, keys, phone, bags in car…
The air outside is damp,
scent of fog descending
through the yellow glow of the street light.
Silence is on the driveway.
No cars zoom by, no dogs bark in the night.
Even the air is still as I drag the cases along.
The stillness is punctuated as I slam doors,
wrestle baggage and double-check the gas tank.
In the house,
the socks are found,
the burritos wrapped in foil
and kids are wrapped in coats with backpacks on.
Final hugs, good byes and “see you soons” from sleepy eyes.
My three passengers settle into the restrain of seat belts and early morning quiet.
Quiet questions waft over the seat back.
How long till we’re there?
Did we bring water?
Are we going a different way?
Why can’t we stay?
Just a little longer.
Pointing the car north and setting the cruise control,
silence finally takes hold,
until a hungry voice asks, “When do we eat the burritos?”
Riding shotgun, Uncle opens the bag and eager hands take.
“Tell Gran these are great.”
Silence again until the airport comes into view and the questions start anew.
“Why are we going to the domestic terminal?”
“How do you get a passport?”
“What airline are we on?”
Grandpa misses the sign for terminal one and we get a free ride past all the airlines.
The scene at the curb is orderly, no mad dash for place to stop.
Uncle and kids file out as I lift the cases to the ground.
Hugs, more goodbyes and many safe travels
before the three travelers disappear from view into the depths of the sky.
Bringing the car back to life,
the check list runs through my head,
seat belt secure,
lights on as I swing gently into the sparse traffic of an early Sunday at SFO.
Heading south, the fog engulfs the road as I turn up the heater against the cold and quiet.
No more joyous shouts.
No more arguments about bed time.
No more “What time are we leaving.”
7:00 am. The car stops.
I walk past the pile of sticks that was going to be bow and arrows.
I open the door with the child’s poster
announcing there are kittens here,
but they’re not for sale.
No pile of shoes greats me.
No one is in trouble.
No one has a story to tell.
Such is the last day.
Till next week,