A mother lies in bed on a Sunday afternoon.
Struck with a fever, body aches and dry mouth. The flu, perhaps.
As she passes in and out of a nap, she thinks about her family and where everybody is.
Her husband is downstairs making her favorite red lentil soup. The smell coming up through the air conditioning vent. Onions, garlic and cumin being sauteed for the base.
Her stepdaughter is downstairs too. Watching whatever sports her father has on the TV. She’ll be heading back to her mom’s house soon. Two hours north. A long drive.
Her son is at the beach with his father playing football with his little cousin, whose family is visiting from NY. A really cute little kid who thinks that his big cousin is the end all and be all. She had a little cousin like that once.
But her daughter.
Her almost 13 year-old daughter gives her pause.
She’s gone to the mall with her friend where they’ll have lunch, do a little shopping and then go see the Hunger Games. But the movie theater is almost a mile away from the mall. And they’ll be walking by themselves. Crossing a few busy roads.
These two pubescent girls wearing their not-too-short shorts. Sauntering down the road in their flip flops with their long hair flowing, their smiles wide. Savoring their independence.
She knows what time they’re walking over because she knows what time the movie starts.
And in her mind’s eye, she imagines her daughter at various points along the way. And let’s her mind wander to all of the bad things that could happen: getting hit by a car, having her purse stolen or, worse, being abducted.
Her heart beats a bit faster because this last one is her worst fear. That someone would take her daughter. Take her away from her mother, her family. She knows it’s a bit irrational. But still, it does happen.
She takes a deep breath. Reminds herself that her daughter and her daughter’s friend are smart kids and responsible ones. That the area they are walking through is well populated. Safe.
And most importantly, that she has to let her grow up. Even if it’s only a mile at a time.
Then her phone rings. She’s put it in bed next to her for just this reason.
It’s her daughter: “Hi Mom. We’re at the movies. The walk was fast. Hope you’re feeling better. Love you.”
She smiles as she hangs up the phone. Curls back into bed and realizes she’s starting to get a little bit of an appetite.
PS Here’s the recipe for the soup: Red Lentil Soup With Lemon