I wake up to darkness in my small Gambian room. I roll over, reach under my pillow, grab my phone, and flip it over.
The wind blows my sheer curtains up and I hear the chirping of crickets echo into my room. I focus on the curtains—they resemble ghosts at night. Seeping through my window to stand at the foot of my bed. Goosebumps start to form on my arm and I hear faint banter coming from outside my bedroom.
Mom and Dad are fighting again.
I hop out of bed. Mom shouts and I pause. Her muffled voice cracks and I can tell she’s crying. I jaunt across my room and open my door. The tiles feel cold beneath my feet as I tip-toe towards my parents’ bedroom. I hear what sounds like an Excel gum pack opening. There are four more pops from the package.
I lower into a crawl and prop myself behind the ledge of my parent’s bedroom. Far enough to stay hidden, close enough to peek.
“I will take another one.” Mom proclaims. Her voice is shaken and hushed.
My head tilts forward until my parents are visible. Mom is sitting on the floor holding something in her hand. Her hair is scattered and she rummages through the gum package again. My eyes squint at what she is opening—it doesn’t look like gum.
“Go ahead then” Dad replies nonchalantly.
Mom freezes and glares at him. Her hands shiver as she pops multiple pieces of gum into her hands and shove them in her mouth. I lean closer to the edge and examine the packaging. The blue rectangular box is thicker than a pack of gum. My stomach twist as I realize she is holding a box of pills.
I sprint into the room, grab mom’s hands, and struggle to snatch the package out of them.
“No! Let go! Please, let go!” I holler yanking at her hands.
The package is flung into the air. Pills tap across the dark bedroom like rain.
Dad is sitting upright on the bed. His hands are held together and he watches me. His face is a distortion of shadowed features and wide eyes.
I can’t see him.
He gets up and his long white gown drops, covering his feet. With small steps, he passes me and enters the dark washroom across the bedroom. His gown floats inside the washroom and the door shuts.
My mother packs a suitcase.
It’s wheels thump down the stairs, roll through the corridor, past the foyer, and out the front door. She pats her scattered hair down with her hands, exposing a purple bruise on her shoulder. The streets dim into a dark blue hue as palm trees rustle with the shrieks of bats between its leaves.
I notice my mother’s shadow as she marches to the main street, waves her hand, and catches a taxi to the airport.
A short non-fiction story to get your mind off social distancing.