Last Shift


photo by Aaron La Torre/THE FLAME

THE GENTLE breeze welcomed my presence the moment I stepped foot inside her domain. Gaia’s children danced while I immersed myself in listening to nature’s overture. A tune repeatedly sung by my mother during the early years of my existence. 

It was dawn. My father already left for work while my mother prepared breakfast. I was always the first to wake up while Maru was the sleeping beauty of our family.

We barely see him though, not even on holidays or our birthdays. I fear that my younger sister might forget his face if this continues.

Mother kept telling us that he was guarding some children against the bad guys, but what about us?

She packed our lunches while we raced towards the park, which was a couple of blocks away. 

We helped her place our things under a maple tree. Soon, the park was filled with children and Maru stormed off when she spotted the ice cream vendor.

I followed suit but something struck me down to my knees. 

The sun obscured my vision but I heard them loud and clear. The gusty winds played merrily with the children.

Why can I not have simple moments like this?

“Seb,” mother called me. Her tear-filled eyes smiled at me as she hugged me tight. She tried humming softly but even the birds chirping failed to conceal the pain in her song.

That was the first time I saw her cry like that, not knowing of the storm waiting for us at home.

If only he did not take that shift, mother would still be singing with us. F


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