HumpDay Quickie #91

Posted: January 27, 2016 in Hump-Day Quickies
Tags: , , , ,

Waiting for the End of the World

by Sal Page

Why am I laughing?

People look at me strangely for laughing when I tell them my beautiful boy disappeared not long after this picture was taken. I laughed when they returned the book but not my boy, carefully handing it over as if it were something important, sacred even. It had his name in, they said.
Once they left, I flicked through the book. Across the top of page fifty-six he’d written ‘Tell Mum’.
‘Tell Mum what?’ people always ask, nervous about joining in.

Of course it isn’t funny but I still laugh. Not a nice normal laugh but still laughter.

I knew it from the day he was born, you see. I kept saying he would be taken from me. Everyone said it was natural to be anxious about my baby, to get strange ideas even, but I had to try not to worry. I knew though. And I was right, wasn’t I?

Once he reached four he knew too. He would talk about missing me when he had to leave, saying he didn’t know when it would happen but he was ready. We both accepted it and just carried on living. He grew up and started travelling with friends. We still occasionally talked about when he would go, still thinking it could be any time. I always felt like I was waiting for the end of the world.

They presumed he went swimming and was swept out to sea but that’s only because the book was washed up further along the coast. They never did find his body. No other clues. There’s nothing on page fifty-six that rings a bell, that has anything to do with anything. Just some men riding motorcycles across America. A ‘lunch of hamburgers and malteds’. Over the years I’ve scoured every crinkly salt-ridden page.

I still laugh when I see that tatty sea-battered book in my kitchen drawer, when I gaze at the photo and tell people what happened. I have a job now. I’m married. My world didn’t end after all.
I just wish I knew what he’d wanted to tell me.

  1. Wonderful. I have goosebumps and a lump in my throat.

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