I Disappear

by Mimi Drop

At this time of night, there’s virtually no traffic, and I arrive from the airport quicker than expected. At my son’s building, a video intercom has replaced the doorman. The flickering screen displays my own confused face as I dial, oh, about a hundred times. No response. A nice bearded young man coming home from what smells like a terrific party lets me in. At my son’s door on the third floor, I knock softly, rap louder, and escalate to pounding the flat of my hand on the metal door until it reverberates, until my hand begins to disappear.

I’d texted him from the airport, Landed, and he’d texted back, Yay, because I’d been stuck in London, Gatwick, for twenty-four hours. My last good night’s sleep was two days prior. I’d been looking forward to sleeping on the sofa bed in his grown-up apartment. The two of us would linger over morning coffee and chat away like two intimate hens.

As I pound on his door, my fingers grow translucent, losing volume and heft, with not enough bang to wake a sleeping adult. I label him an adult because he is one, not the 4-year-old who thought my embrace could solve any problem, or the 11-year-old who wouldn’t hold my hand but slept in my arms one last time after a scary movie.

Where could he be? Had he texted from a party, not made it back, and is too embarrassed to answer my increasingly panicked messages? Had he patched things up with his girlfriend and got caught up in makeup sex? He might have staggered out of a bar drunk and pissed in an alley and gotten arrested (it had happened before). At least that would explain the phone.

At 2:15, I slump to the floor. He’s angry. I pushed him too hard: good grades, tuba lessons, an Ivy League University. With all my love, my good intentions, I failed him. The resentment is coming out in one passive-aggressive burst. He’d never just come out and yell at me. He guards his grudges. No admittance.

On the floor, I pull the trench coat over my knees and nap, propped up like a beggar against the wall, arms outstretched. I wake at three-thirty to a curious tingling in my extremities, surely exhaustion. In my periphery, the rolling suitcase is visible through the tips of my fingers. I have to be hallucinating.

What to do but try again? My palm, finally too flimsy, slides off the surface of the door, and my wedding ring falls and rolls away. Sound ceases; there’s no hope of reaching him. One by one, the freckles on my wrists vanish. Tiny hairs on my arms rise up and march away. My sweater pulses twice like a heartbeat. The sleeves empty of contents and hang down in dismay, no longer needed.

* * *
Mimi is a writer and editor whose commercial work has appeared in the New York Times, The Washington Post, Vogue magazine, Harper’s Bazaar, W magazine, Allure, Vanity Fair, and dozens of television commercials. Her fiction and poetry have appeared in THAT Literary Review, So to Speak, The Woman in the Glass, and OnTheBus. She’s currently editing for Narrative magazine and working on two novels.

12 Comments

  1. Wow – such a richness and density of emotion captured in such deceptively simple prose and sentences. Masterful!

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  2. Beautiful imagery, how we lose ourselves in the end when we fly out of our child’s orbit so far from our sun, that which we birthed. More please!

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  3. Having just read “Olive Kitteridge”, I was immediately reminded of her relationship/nonrelationship with her adult son Christopher. Not that your evocative story is in any way a “clone” (though it never hurts for a reader to see something of a Pulitzer Prize novel in our prose), but that you captured the same delicious note of poignancy in a mother’s backward glance at what–for better or worse–cannot be changed. Well done!

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