I was half awake when my mother left. She wore a blue dress and her retreating figure shimmered in and out of my vision, sometimes as solid as a sapphire, other times as translucent as fog. It was early because the darkness had that opaque quality that gave you a hint of the world but revealed nothing.
I must have stirred because she stopped and turned. I remember that she smiled. I don’t remember her walking back to the small bed where my younger sister and I slept; I must have slipped into sleep then. Moments later when I resurfaced she was there, leaning over me. The heaviness and torpor of sleep tugged fiercely against the nagging fear that something was very wrong. She spoke, words I’ve heard her say many times before. Yet, on this particular morning they felt heavy and dark to my four year old brain.
“Be a good girl and take care of your sister.”
Fading again, I called out her name. “Mommy.”
When I fully woke, she was long gone but the word echoed like a ghost throughout the room.