When Captain Alpha was born, I visited thrift stores, looking for gently used children’s clothing. I remember searching though the piles of fabric, waiting for something to catch my eye. I found a white long-sleeved diaper shirt with basketball players on it and looked at the size. 24 months.
‘I’ll get it,’ I thought at the time, as I placed it in the basket. ‘Even though it will never fit him.’
That shirt? It’s much too small for Bravo, now.
The other night, he shook a pair of pants out, and prepared to put them on. It was after supper and he and his dad were rushing to get to martial arts class on time.
“I think you have the wrong pants, honey,” I told him.“I think those are your dad’s gi pants.”
He looked at me quizzically and held them up to his waist. The pant legs hung just to his ankles.
They were huge. I could have sworn that they were too big for him.
Another day, another basket (or four) of laundry to fold. I folded, sorted and stacked each person’s clothes so that they were ready for transport to closets and dressers. Parents, Alpha, Bravo; three piles for three rooms.
‘Wait,’ I thought.
I pause and looked at my piles more carefully. I had gotten mixed up. That’s not Alpha’s shirt; Bravo wears that now.
I can close my eyes and picture him in that shirt, like a glossy photograph, frozen in my mind. Wasn’t it just yesterday that Alpha was wearing that?
No – it was 5 years ago.
I am visited by ghosts. They wait on the edge of my mind, just out of sight. Some bring visions from the past, some bring glimpses of the future. They have me pack big clothes away with thoughts of certainty; ‘it will be ages before he can wear that.’ Then they come again and make the clothes shrink. They make me mix up my piles. But just like old Ebenezer, I cannot stop the ghosts from coming – for the ghosts are time itself.
It’s only time; it’s not really a ghost. But I am haunted, all the same.
Where has it gone? Where is it going? Why is it here for a moment and then gone before my eyes have time to adjust?
Time’s ghosts visit and tweak a memory. And stir a lump in my throat.
But sadly, they never do a load of laundry while they are here.
Linking up with Mama Kat’s Writer’s Workshop today
Prompt #3 – Tell us about something that is haunting you.