Mountain’s Teardrop // Faustino Barroso
Faustino Barroso is a junior from Santa Ana, CA, majoring in Applied Agriculture and Food Studies. At Morningside, he is a part of Camerata.
In a Different Room // Evelyn Williams
I pull into the driveway, headlights reflect back to me from the porch door. The only light that is on in the house is a lamp in the living room. I park, grab my bag, and make my way to the door. Like I suspect, only my dad is home. I walk in saying, “Hellloooo.”
I hear the recliner chair go to a sitting position with a clunk and see my dad half jog toward me with a smile as the TV drones on. “Heyy baby, good to see ya!”
We hug as I tell him it’s good to see him too. “Where’s Mom?” I ask.
“Oh, she’s still at the office.”
“Gotchya,” I say. I look around the house while he starts to sit down at the dining room table. He puts his reading glasses on and looks down at the mail while I put my shoes by the door.
“How was the drive?” he asks.
“Uh, not too bad. Icy around Des Moines, but not bad.”
“Well good, good,” he says.
I walk to the kitchen and open the fridge looking for something to fill a bored stomach. Compared to when I was younger and my two sisters and I were still living in the house, the fridge is bare with cottage cheese, apples, lots of jam and jellies, and a few containers of unidentifiable leftovers. I close the fridge and sit across from my dad in the dining room.
“You know when Mom will be home?” I ask.
“No, hopefully not too much longer. Last night she fell asleep in her office and came home this morning to change clothes,” he said.
“Oh, geez. And she went back in today?”
“Ya,” he said.
I t is quiet in the house, so I go upstairs to unpack my clothes. When I hear the clunk of the recliner relaxing again, I head down to watch TV with my dad. I don’t want to watch American Pickers for the one hundredth time, but I have absolutely no desire to do homework, so I go and sit on the couch and scroll through Instagram. By 10:40 my dad is snoring in the chair. By 11:13, he goes into his bedroom and I finally switch the TV to Family Guy. I go back to my room at 12.
The next morning, I wake to the smell of bacon. When I get to the kitchen there’s no one in sight, the bacon is cold, sitting on a paper plate. Dad must be working today. I was hoping that I could hang out with Mom and Dad today, but Dad seems to always have work to do. I nuke the bacon in the microwave and make some toast. Afterwards, I walk into Mom and Dad’s room. The door squeaks as I open it, but I try to stay quiet as I slide into the bed next to Mom. I put my arm around her and hug her. She’s got her pillow wrapped around her head that’s become a habit to fight the noise of my dad’s snoring. I must have been too loud because she starts stretching her body, slowly unrolling from her blankets.
“Well good morning sweet baby,” Mom says.
“Morning,” I say.
“How are you?” she asks.
“No, his truck is gone,” I say.
Later in the evening, my dad walks into the house. Mom and I are watching TV as she folds the laundry piled high in the living room. He sits down in the dining room, slowly opening envelopes, reading each one, placing the important ones in a stack separate from the others destined for the trash. Once he is done, he makes his way into the living room, clunking the recliner back.
“Honey, can I have the remote?” he asks me.
I learned pretty quickly when I was younger to just give him the remote. Don’t question it. Don’t argue that you are in the middle of a show. Just give him the remote. Then you don’t have to hear a lecture on how he’s worked all day while you did nothing. It’s just easier that way.
Mom sighs and goes to the kitchen, giving up on the laundry and beginning the dishes. I go back to looking at my phone.
I remember when I was in elementary school my parents were closer. My two sisters, my parents, and I would all get ready early Sunday mornings and go to church. Afterward, we sometimes went to different playgrounds. My sisters would play tag with me. Sometimes my mom and dad would even play with us. I remember one time my dad was playing tag with us girls. He was “it” and we all ran for our lives, easily climbing the jungle gym out of his reach. At one point, he had me trapped in the corner where the only escape was the monkey bars behind him. He tagged me and I squealed laughing. My sisters were far away playing it safe, so I went after him. He turned and jumped off the platform as I reached out. I just barely missed him as he jogged off and hid behind Mom. She laughed as she sat at the picnic table. I ran over and stopped in front, grinning like I had an evil plan. Dad signaled to me, pointing towards Mom and whispering, “Tag Mom!” Well Mom became “it,” and I don’t remember how the game ended, but I can tell you that my sisters were always fast enough to evade being “it” somehow.
But as I got into junior high and my sisters were just finishing high school, we went to church only every few weeks. When we did, Dad always said he had work to do. Sometimes he would meet us in town for breakfast afterward, but eventually, Sundays became days with Mom. Things became different in the house. There were fewer family adventures together and more time was spent in quiet company in front of the TV. I started to notice that when Mom did come home from work, Dad rarely said anything. He would look at the TV and eventually would ask what was for supper. I’ve seen him make food; I know he can cook, but he started to put that duty on Mom. And when Mom would be at the dining table, Dad would take a break from the TV to sit down and talk. Mom would hardly glance at him, only responding minimally so she could eat her supper and read the newspaper.
That’s what she is doing right now. Dinner tonight is a fend-for-yourself situation. Mom gravitates towards cereal and Dad grumbles and moans until he settles on cottage cheese and Lays chips. It’s Saturday evening. I’m leaving for school again tomorrow morning. I decide to sit beside Mom for a little bit. She doesn’t say much. There must be something of interest happening that she wants to know about from the newspaper. I get up from the seat and head towards the stairs to my bedroom.
“Welp, I’m gonna go to bed,” I say.
That breaks her focus, and she looks at me. “Already? Ok, good night. I love you.” And she takes a bite of Cheerios.
“Good night, Dad,” I say into the other room.
“Good night, Kiddo,” he replies.
As I drive back to school, I can’t help but feel pebbles in my chest beginning to stack up. My mind goes down the rabbit hole, a trap that lays there every time I leave my parent’s house. I want to know if my parents still love each other. Do they ever smile at each other? Now that all three of their kids are out of the house, has it become more apparent to them that they have changed? I try to imagine when they both are actually home, if they sit in the living room and talk to each other, or if it is how I see it when I’m home: complete separation.
Maybe it’s that idea I’ve heard so much about, that when you become a parent, your love that was once for your significant other is turned completely to your child. They did have three different girls to cater to, to tote along, to drag to different sporting events and coach constantly from the sidelines. Maybe they just got too tired to try giving the other time out of their day. The whole “I have work I need to do,” and then leaving or staying too late at the office is bullshit. Even as a college kid, I know that yes, work can be stressful, but if you cut out your partner, then that stress piles on like a load of laundry. I want to believe that my parents still love each other, or at least have a chance to love each other again. If it is truly impossible, then what hope is there for me when I have kids with my future partner? Will I be sitting at the dining room table eating cereal and reading the newspaper alone while my partner watches TV in a different room?
In a Different Room // Evelyn Williams
Evelyn Williams is a senior from Danville, IA, double majoring in English and religious studies. At Morningside, she is a part of Sigma Tau Delta, Theta Alpha Kappa, Cantabile, and the Kiosk. She has always had an immense joy for writing and reading and plans to keep doing it for years to come. Williams’ recently found the hidden gem genre of Nonfiction and plans to explore that area as long as she has enough room on her bookshelves!