Her purple scarf was looped around her throat, school books scattered on the bed. She dances to her favorite music. She has pushed up the sleeve of the shirt; the silver bracelet moves up and down the smooth skin of her arm, almost slipping off. Sophia is glad to see her daughter wearing the bracelet that she presented on her last birthday. Leaning against the living room door she watches her twelve years old daughter Jade.
“ Mom! You are here.what do you think of my dance?” She pulls out her earphone and looks at her mother.
Sophia steps forward and quickly kisses Jade on the forehead. “ You dance so gracefully with a natural flow!”
Jade’s voice is impatient: “ No, I mean my shoes. Look at them.”
Sophia is surprised to see the black, pencil high heels. She tries not to criticize so she laughs. “They are so high..”
“ They are not. They are comfortable and I am in love with them.” Her voice is triumphant.
She smiles and leaves.
Jade is Sophia’s only child and her love. They used to do everything together; library visit, shopping, movies, hiking. Gradually it has changed. Jade behaves very different. She tries to defy whatever her mother says.
On one weekend Jade gets ready for her high school play. It is a competition between two last teams. Clothes are spilling from her bag, she has thick makeup on her face. “Dad and I will be there tonight.” Sophia says brightly. “ We will pick you after the play around ten.”
She stares at Sophia. “ I am not a little girl. Pick me at eleven. I want to enjoy some time with my friends.” The anger in her tone is surprising. Sophia does not want to argue. Jade shrugs and turns, bending over the dog. She kisses her, pulling her ears gently; though she hardly stirs, her tail thumps the floor.
Sophia walks closer and hugs Jade. “ Sweetheart, you are a triumph, so relax, everything will be fine.”
She waves from the door. “ Bye, mum,” she says.
Later that evening it gets windy; a storm is brewing. The raw power of storm is terrifying. Sophia accompanies her husband to pick up Jade. The doors are locked, parking lot is empty. They drive to a couple of Jade’s friends houses but she is not there. They search her desperately. Sophia’s face is white and hands are cold.
One early morning in October. Sophia could not sleep. It is hard to see the her daughter’ empty room. She walks into the deck and stands quietly.The silence presses coldly against Sophia’s face. The morning sinks into a dull afternoon and unannounced grief settles closely around her. She misses jade so much. It is hard to see exactly where the change started. Sophia goes back over and over to different points in time to find where she could have altered the fate. She sits on the bench and her tired eyes closes. Jade’s lovely face floats in the gray space in front of her.
Sophia wakes up early; outside the first layer of dark has lifted, leaving the garden as still and flat as a painting under the gray sky. In her dream, Jade has been there, under the tree,shadowed by leafy branches. Minute passes. The stinging shock of empty garden fades into the familiar ache.
As she enters into the kitchen, the doorbell rings. Sophia twists the silver knob and pulls the door open. There stands Jade in a white t-shirt and a jean with a small black duffel bag on her right hand. Her hair has grown long. There are tattoos on her both hands. A small smile flickers on her tight lip. Sophia could not wait to hear her daughter’s excuses. She runs and pulls Jade closer and hugs her. Tears of love runs on her cheek. Jade sobs and whispers. “ I am really sorry mom, I have given you so much trouble. You can punish me the way you want.But I could not live without you. You are the best thing in my life.Please forgive me, please.”
Sophia cries and laughs at the same time. “ Yes sweetie, I have forgiven you. But now that you are back, everything will be fine. We will work it out.” She wipes her own tears with the back of her palm and her other hand wraps tightly around her daughter’s delicate hand.