“One last present before you go,” Mother said, “one more dusting of snow.”
Before you go. One day left.
She willed herself to breathe.
The snow it fell so softly. It sifted through bare branches and covered the holes he had dug.
Casper returned. He sat, panting. “Run,” she said, and he wouldn’t. They gave him treats and started down. They were spent. They were tired.
Footprints sullied their way back. They’d traveled this trail every day and now she would take off to America, to return to life as usual, and Mother would be on her own. Routine sustained mania and structure. Routine provided comfort and distraction. Routine meant Mother knew what time his favorite shows were on, which was all the time, so she could go lie down in a dark room when she wasn’t cooking meals. Casper would be at her feet protecting her. Even he bowed his head around him.
“Your father must be awake by now.” Mother’s voice started to rise. “I hope he sees the breakfast I left in plain sight on the dining table with all his favorite banchan instead of sitting up hungry like a child just so he can blame me for… No, I won’t say that. I won’t speak ill of your father in front of you. I’m sorry.” She stopped picking at the scabs on her hand.
The snow it fell so softly and buried everything beneath that was dark and tangled and filthy and sour and putrid and acrid and vile and sick and—
She was spent. She was tired.
“It’s okay,” she said. And it was. She had willed it.