Had you been planning it for days? Weeks? Were you waiting for the night when your mom was out visiting Grandma? Why did you not wait for me to sleep? Did you expect me to stop you, find you? Should I have been concerned when you walked down the stairs that night? Should I not have assumed you needed an apple or a pop-tart like other nights when you worked on college applications? Should I have discerned something from the way your feet hit the floor, tentatively, a few seconds between steps? Should I not have dismissed it thinking you were just sleepy? Did you sneak out when I was in the bathroom? Why did I not hear the front door creak? Did you oil the hinges before? Did you stop on the porch expecting me behind your shoulder? Did you pause at the sign “Home of a High School Senior” in our front yard? Did you swivel to look at the light—still on—in your room? Did you see my silhouette in the study, hunched over the computer? Did you remember, last year, how I hunched over a rock, wanting to give up on the Angel’s Landing hike? Did you remember how you held my hand and pulled me forward? Did you remember how close together our steps were on the precariously narrow ridges? Did you remember how our fists touched as we clutched the chains along the steep climb? Did you remember how you crushed me in a sweaty embrace at the top yelling, “We did it, Dad!”? Did you think once, if only for a second, of making a U? Did you write Sorry Mom and Dad . . . when I thought you were working on a college essay? Should I have asked that night to review your writing? Did you forget your wallet in your drawer? Did you leave it behind on purpose? Did you know the sweatshirt you picked was the blue your lips would take?
Sara Siddiqui Chansarkar is an Indian American writer. She was born in a middle-class family in India. Her work has been published in online journals as well as print anthologies and has been nominated for Pushcart and Best of the Net awards. Her writing can be found at https://saraspunyfingers.com. She can be reached on twitter @PunyFingers.