It was a typical Saturday morning. I started out my day just like any other. eating toast and an egg sandwich with a cup of coffee for breakfast, tending to my garden out back, checking any unseen mail, everything was proceeding like the days that preceded this one. Is it boring? Maybe a little, but I wouldn’t change anything. If the world decides one day, to shake my life up, so be it. If it doesn’t, so be it.
As I was working on a company logo, someone knocked on my door. I sighed, grabbed a plain black tee from my drawer, and headed out to the door to get things over with.
A man dressed in a light blue button-down shirt and navy blue pants holding a package stood in front of me. In the distance, beyond the grass I let grow a little too long, there was a white truck decorated with red and blue lines that read “United States Postal Service.”
“Package for Jude Cornerstone?” The mailman asked
“Yes.” I extended my arms to grab the package and smiled.
“Thank you. Have a nice day.” The mailman walked back towards the truck and left
I closed the door and began to question the uneventful shake in my life that just occurred.
Odd, the mailman could’ve left a key in my mailbox to open the parcel locker. Now that I mention it, I wasn’t even expecting a package.
I put the package down on the tiled kitchen floor, promising myself to get back to it later.
After working a little longer on the logo, I went to have lunch. The package was still there. A few hours later, I headed to my room to clear my head and start playing video games.
I’m forgetting something, aren’t I?
I headed back out to the kitchen to grab a snack. The package was still there, unopened, in all of its box-like glory.
I went to sleep, woke up again, headed to the kitchen to have breakfast, the box was still there.
I should really deal with this, shouldn’t I?
Another day passed with the package unopened until I decided to stop putting it off. I grabbed a box cutter from the white kitchen drawer, and carefully sliced the white box down the middle. Inside, was a pack of plain white tees, socks, and a freshly knitted blue scarf with red polka dots.
I grabbed everything and stared at each item for a good 10 seconds in visible confusion before tossing them on the couch.
A letter decorated with a floral pattern was buried underneath all of the gifts.
How are you doing? I hope you don’t mind this package coming to your place all of a sudden, I hope you find what’s in there useful to you. I wanted to take this time to invite you to a family reunion happening at our house on the 2nd of June. I do hope you’ll come.
-Sincerely, your mother.
P.S: I apologize for not contacting you sooner.
“That’s all you have to say after 10 years?” I muttered under my breath.
The current date is June 1st. It's been ages since I’ve had to look at a clock, every day just feels the same, like it all merges together in one infinite loop.
Regardless, I decided to go to the reunion tomorrow.
It’s a typical Saturday morning. I start out my day just like any other. eating toast and an egg sandwich with a cup of coffee for breakfast, tending to my garden out back, checking any unseen mail, the morning proceeded like any other.
Once noon hit, I headed outside to call a cab to ride to my parents’ house- a place I haven’t been to in forever.
As the taxi pulls away from where he picked me up, I looked out the window to see a muddy sky, clouds covering the light of the sun. It almost seems like the sky is weeping for something, or maybe someone.
“So, why are you heading so far away?” I heard the driver ask.
“Ah, I see. Must be nice.”
“Is it really that special?”
“A word of advice, take every chance that you can to connect with your family. Before you know it, they won’t be there anymore. We don’t know how precious something is to us until they’re gone, or at least, I didn’t.” The driver’s words had an air of regret.
“Did something happen?”
“4 years ago, my mother passed. None of us made an effort to talk to her, until months before she passed. She acted like nothing was wrong until the very end, and those last few conversations I had with her are the ones etched into my memory. Conversations I hope to never forget, even as get older.”
After he said that, I started to reminisce about my own childhood. The house wasn’t anything special, a 3 bedroom, 2 bathroom house with a small area for living and dining rooms. After school, I would get picked up by my brother, Amando. He would simply ask how I did and tease me the rest of the way.
I would come home and immediately head to my room to start drawing, at least until my mother barged in to start nagging me about chores. I would do them, of course, but that’s only because of what happened when I didn’t.
Besides chores, I didn’t talk to my mother at all. She would be in her own world and I would be in my own.
My dad often came home late at night due to work. After which he would go to his room to change, then return to the living room to sit on the couch and watch TV. My only communication with him was whenever he decided to randomly barge into my room. At which point I’d either be drawing or writing. He would berate me, saying things like, “why can’t you do something useful for once,” or “I thought I told you to follow my path.” He’d confiscate my things to make me “reflect” on my actions. Things only escalated as I got older, to the point where one day, at 17, I couldn’t take it anymore and left home.
I heard a faint voice, but couldn’t make out what it was saying. Everything seemed blurry as if I was being shaken vigorously.
“Sir? We’re...” The faint voice became clearer.
“SIR!” A loud echo rattled my brain, I finally snapped to reality to see us stopped near a house. The sun had set, a cool orange on the horizon.
“Oh, my apologies,” I said half-asleep.
The driver helped me out of my seat and told me to be careful. I managed to muster a smile, paid him, and headed towards the house in the mountains.
A small, fickle old man opened the door.
“Who are you?” He said, almost seeming scared.
“Dad?" I looked visibly confused at the man standing before me.
“Oh… it’s you.” He replied in an uninterested tone. “Come on in.”
I took off my jacket, hung it on the coat rack, and sat on the floor in the center of what I presume to be the living room.
The house is unbelievably empty. No couches, grey walls made everything seem closer, there was only one small table to the left of where I’m sitting, but no chairs in sight.
I remembered that my parents always lived frugally, making every attempt to save money, but I didn’t think it would be this bad.
After a while of doing nothing, I got up and proceeded to explore. I went to the kitchen, which was separated from the living room by a small counter. There, I saw my mom and my brother preparing 2 pounds of steak.
“Jude? Is that you?” Mom asked.
“Yes, it is,” I replied a little meekly.
“I didn’t think you’d actually show up.” Jade gave me a slap on the wrist.
“I see you haven’t changed one bit,” I said boorishly.
“Hey, you haven’t either,” Jade snapped back.
“Now now, settle down, boys. Jude, if you don’t mind, could you please go somewhere else?”
Those words both relieved and stung me. People fundamentally don’t change, no matter how many years pass.
I left the kitchen and entered the bedroom. It was small, about half the size of the living room - which was small to begin with. Cream-colored walls surrounded the bedroom, with two individual beds on each side of the room. The beds faced a tiny glass shelf filled with photos and knickknacks. A window was on the leftmost side of the room and drawers lined up on the wall next to it.
I approached the glass shelf and picked up a family photo of when I was young. Back when I could mindlessly wander around, not having to worry about anything. Back when mom and dad both gave me love and care, back when I could do whatever I wanted without being judged. Small drops of liquid formed in my eyes as I came to a cruel realization.
I can never go back.
Time is limited.
They won’t be around forever.
“Jude, your mother told me to come get you. She said dinner is ready.” I heard a voice from behind me say.
I turned around and saw my dad rapidly tapping his foot. As if he was in a hurry.
I turned to leave without saying a word.
“And one more thing. There’s no need to get all sentimental over a photo. We’ve all been living our lives as best we can.”
I left the room with my head down.
“Jude, over here,” I heard my mom call out even though we were a meter apart.
I headed over to the kitchen and proceeded to serve myself a small piece of steak that was cut beforehand and some mashed potatoes.
Once everyone got their plates, we sat on the floor gathered near the table to eat.
“So, Jude, how’ve ya been?” Jade asked with food in his mouth.
“I’ve been fine I guess. Though I’m also feeling a little relieved.”
“Oh? Is that so. How unlike you,” Jade replied as if we never drifted apart.
Dad peered over his food, watching us very carefully, trying to sense trouble.
“Anything you’d like to say, dad?” I stared back at him.
“It's nothing. Tell me Jude, what do you do for a living?”
I could see dad slightly move away, as if it was an involuntary reaction.
“Ahem, I guess the career doesn’t matter as long as you’re making a living from it.” My dad tried to regain composure.
I felt myself making a slight smile. Guess my dad’s changing in his own way.
“And you, Jade?” Dad asked.
“I decided to follow your career path of business management, just like you always told us you wanted.”
“And how’s that coming along?”
“I’m making a huge amount of money. So in that regard, it's fantastic. But recently, I've been feeling empty, and everyday is a workday, even when it isn’t supposed to be. No amount of organization can fix that. In fact, this is one of the few occasions in the year I have a true break from everything.”
A somber air filled the room. Nobody spoke, each one waiting for the other to break the ice. Dad, on the other hand seemed contemplative, as if something cracked within him.
Finally, mom spoke. “If it really causes you that much pain, maybe you could try looking for something else. You do have the money to keep supporting yourself, after all.”
“Yeah, I get that, but what do I do exactly? It’s not like I can drop everything and figure out the next step in the drop of a hat.”
“Well maybe you need a break from life is all,” she said in a warm tone.
“I agree with mom. Maybe you can li-” I bit my tongue.
“I know what you were going to say and the answer is no, I‘m not living with them. I don’t want to be converted into a bum who starts freeloading off of his dying parents,” Jade retorted, his eyes in a burning state which I have never seen before.
“What other option is there!? You’re just going to keep working yourself to death! I don’t want that for you, for any of you!” I shouted.
Dad snapped out of it and stared at me in surprise.
I looked dumbfounded at my surroundings, and then at my hands and feet.
Did I really just say that?
“Jude…” Mom said my name softly.
“Listen, I never thought I’d be saying this… but, being here made me realize, no matter what we may have gone through in the past, no matter how we treated each other, I do in fact, care for you all. Jade, answer me this, who’s going to find out that you’re living at your parents’ house?”
“I- no one” Jade replied meekly.
“Exactly. It’s never too late to get a fresh start, I realize this now. I also came to the grim realization that our lives are too short to live in a cycle. I want to start appreciating each and every moment with you guys now.”
Tears streamed from my eyes. The grey walls which permeated the room turned slightly brighter.
The cyclical nature of my life. I’m glad it finally broke.