Summer wasn’t there yet but that day the air smelled hot and sticky. The traffic was congested and my uncle’s van followed the cars in front squeezing its massive presence trough the last miles before the airport. The cabin was silent. Nick, my uncle, was focusing on driving, unresponsive to the perspiration that was going down his back spotting his blue shirt. Michael, my middle brother, just sat there, between us, without a word, starring at the cars in front, pushing them aside in an immense effort to clear the way. I sat at the window to the right looking up the sky. I was thinking at Adrian, the youngest of us three whom we supposed to pick up in a couple of hours. We haven’t seen each other in five years and now, all of a sudden, I am home and he is coming home. It seemed so unpredictable and unreal that mother will have all three of us around dinner table by the end of the day; I from America, Adrian from Spain. Coming home.
The sky just bolted heat through lazy, white clouds above. Was still early, not even ten in the morning but we had to calm down mother and leave at eight to get there in time. For her.
Go and bring your brother home, she said. We can’t do anything until he’s here. Everybody’s waiting. So we left early.
The airport was right there and the landing scheduled around noon. The tension in the cabin grew when airport security asked us to open the van for inspection. What’s inside, they asked. It’s empty, my uncle answered getting out. Nothing inside! You couldn’t get a smaller car? another question came before they shut the doors close. No, we need this one.
My face was wet and itchy. The cabin was steamy with the engine stopped but I didn’t bother to come out. I did not care about the heat or the ten days beard, all I wanted was to see my brother inside that van, keep him close, and bring him home to mother. And us.
They let us through and I looked up again, starring at a big Iberia plane stuck in the sky, ready to land. He’s not in this one, it’s too early I heard Michael while the van kept moving. I was thankful; I wanted those moments of knowing where you’re going or what you’re about to do next to last forever. They don’t; just like us they come and go, they change, they grow, they die.
Don’t worry mother! Adrian will be home soon enough!
We parked and waited. I felt guilty that so much time passed uncontrollably, that we didn’t talk enough, didn’t write enough, didn’t know about each other enough. Punched into this world by means we couldn’t understand we had mother waiting alone for signs of good. They did not come but she always found means to wait. Waiting, that all she did in life and we were non-purposely cruel to let her do that because we weren’t the ones waiting. It was her who stood still for a phone call, a knock in the door, or an embrace that let years pass before it happened. In that torrid afternoon I understood my mother’s life and how much I punished her with my own silence.
Now, I am ready! Today your wait will be over for a long time mother. I got inside, signed the papers and waited thinking how was going to be to have him back. Michael came too, a strange silence bonding us as the doors opened.
He came, quiet, shy, undisclosed. I didn’t know what to do first, smile or cry, get ready for pain or relief, touch him or just look at him. Five years flu before my eyes, five years full of nothing; no memories, just void, five lost years in which I thought I could conquer the world in reality digging a grave.
I felt so lost. Michael brought me back and we hugged in silence long time, just the three of us, remembering childhood and happy summers. I kissed Adrian after and I knew he smiled.
I don’t remember going back! The van swallowed us, the doors were shut, and darkness was meant to be. We didn’t care; we were together, coming to you mother. I tried to get myself ready but I couldn’t. One last turn, one last bump in the road, one last stop. I tried but the scream came before I was ready to hear, cracking my heart open, stabbing my guts with guilt and remorse. The doors went loose and I saw you mother drying inside while I was giving back to you my baby brother, dead at thirty two, never to be on his feet again.
Your wait was finally over mother! But why like this, why have him to not have him grow old and be the man that he should’ve been. I keep your scream with me wherever I go mother! It’s there bound to my soul, shivering for the care of others I couldn’t help…
It’s there, kept silently to be given back to you the way it should be…
It’s there, mother! I’m so sorry! It’s there!