by Brian C. Mahon
Jacob anxiously stirred at his soggy cereal. When he thought Mommy wouldn’t notice, he started to quietly slip off his stool until she looked his way, making him freeze with his hands still on the counter.
“Where are you going, Jakey?”
“I want to go outside,” he whined.
She dried her hands on a dish towel and briskly stacked the cleaned salad plates into the cupboard. Mommy had makeup on and smelled very nice. Jacob didn’t know why; they weren’t going anywhere. His hands danced on the countertop until she finally said, “Are you done with breakfast, hon?”
He smiled wide, saying quickly, “Done! Can I go outside now?”
She pursed her lips and rounded the counter, then wrapped her arms around his shoulders to kiss the top his head. She sounded sad when she said, “Go outside, dear. Have fun and run as much as you want. If you see the neighbors, please say hello and goodbye to them for me, okay?”
“I will!” he chirped, then ran out the townhome’s back door to their small, fenced-in yard. His first priority was to snatch his adventurer’s backpack from the patio table and check everything was still inside: binoculars, magnifying glass, pocketknife, compass, and small notepad with pencil. Sucking on his bottom lip with a smile, he placed his arms through the pack’s straps and walked around the yard.
He chased twitching grass blades to scare up grasshoppers. He followed a butterfly’s staccato flight to the Mr. Sinclair’s yard. As he followed it, he paused near the patio to run his hands across the grass blades. Tender green points shifted and tickled under his soft palms and fingers. Jacob plucked a dandelion and placed it in his bag. The only sounds about him were a pair of tweeting birds and lazy rustling of the fence bushes against little breezy gusts.
Jacob looked at the fence, the tree in the neighbor’s yard, then the sky. The sky was different now. The new moon was a lot closer than last night. Mommy said he shouldn’t be scared. She said God was sending a new moon to make all the nights in all their tomorrows together brighter and more special. And Jacob knew happy tomorrows needed happy flowers!
He ran back inside, hollering, “Mommy!”
“Yes dear?” She was at the sink again, staring through the window.
“I got this for you,” he said, offering the dandelion in his warm palm. She hugged him, kissed his cheek, tussled his hair, but she didn’t smile.
“There’s grapes and juice for you on the counter, and I want you to finish them up. Today could be a big day for us, so we need to make sure we have full bellies, ok sweetie?”
“I will, Mommy. Love you,” he replied, squeezing her around the waist.
“I love you too. I will always, always love you, my Jakey.”
Jacob slurped his orange juice and bit into delicious, wet grapes. Mommy stared through the window and wrung the dishtowel in her hands, watching the new moon get closer and brighter.