Mother in time

  On that morning, the mother left.
   I did not cry. I don’t believe my mother left me, she just fell asleep as before, so quiet and so peaceful. On days when she was seriously ill, her mother often woke up from her sleep, and when she was awake, she couldn’t stop groaning. Now she is sleeping soundly. It turns out that she is tall, and it turns out that her legs are so straight. I sat next to her, just sat like that, just looked at her like that. I didn’t seem to shed tears until I returned to Shi from my hometown.
   On the eve of Qingming Festival, I drove back to Zhang. When I passed through one tunnel after another and reached the boundary of Yuxian County, I suddenly realized that my mother was no longer there, and suddenly realized what it means for my mother to be absent. She will no longer stand in front of the window, watch me parking, no longer call my name, no longer ask me what time I left or what I ate on the road. She won’t be busy in the kitchen anymore, and she won’t let me stretch out in bed again. She won’t move out of the bedding early, and she won’t secretly check my toiletry bag to see if I take medicine. She will no longer sit at the table and watch me eat. She won’t tell me to drink less. She won’t ask me to write about myself without worrying about her. She won’t tell me about the past in the country again. She won’t say over and over again that you have to be careful when driving. At night, I could no longer hear her waking up from her sleep, no longer hear her suppressed coughing, no longer see her rickety figure.
   My heart was suddenly hollowed out, tears bursting like a bank. Obstructed vision, slow down, wipe one hand, and another hand. Later, the car had to be parked on the side of the road.
   In the last days of her life, she couldn’t stand up on her own and needed the help of her family. When she doesn’t hurt that much, she will say in a guilty tone that it will tire you all. To gag her mouth, I was angry in fashion, sometimes joking with her, but no matter how I looked, she was still apologetic. One day, my mother suddenly said, “You are filial.” I smiled and asked, who said that? Mother said, people say so. I know she thinks of the village and the past. I combed her sparse and dry white hair with my fingers, telling her to stop thinking and close her eyes to rest. I always feel that it is important to replenish energy, but I don’t know how to accompany her to remember or find happy time with her. She was thinking, but I gagged her mouth with my self-righteousness.
   Another day, I will turn her over. She asked me to call my father. Father is resting, I can’t bear to call him. She said that I couldn’t do it alone, so I said to try. After that, I knelt on the bed, picked her up, and lay it flat, then turned around, facing me. I gasped a little harder, my mother heard it by herself, and said very uncomfortably, “I’m tired of you.” “Grass chicken” is the dialect of the dam, which means severe and excessive. If she used another word, it might be one word. This “grass chicken” has too many memories attached, my nose suddenly sore, and then I exaggerated smile, not tired, not tired at all. My mother looked at me lovingly, just like in the past, but I dared not look at her again. My mother used the term “grass chicken” more than once. In my childhood, in my youth, in my youth, that day, it was the last time my mother used this term. It was not that she could not bear the pain, but that she was worried about her son.
   Regarding time and the universe, human exploration has never stopped. I believe in the existence of multiple universes. Thomas Pynchon described the multiverse in the masterpiece “Resisting the Daylight”. The characters in his pen travel back and forth in various worlds, as if traveling between continents, from one anti-earth to another anti-earth.
  After my mother left, I dreamed of her several times. Once back to the village, she was coming out of the old house, her body was strong and her face was red. I couldn’t help but scream, I don’t know when my mother’s body became so good. She said a few words to me and hurried to the ground. Only then did I realize that my hands were empty, and I didn’t bring her anything. I went to the store, planning to buy some pastries, but before I got there, the dream threw me out again. I was very disappointed and unwilling, but my mother walked like flying, and I was very pleased. Another time, when I built a house at home, I went back to help and saw my mother mixing cold vegetables, shredded potatoes, and spinach. I wanted to have a bite, but I woke up, annoyed.
   I never had the dream of her leaving again. In every dream, she was healthy, taking a longevity medicine. I just thought that my mother must be living in another universe, and she can freely shuttle through the universe outside the universe. I just don’t know if she still loves to paint, if she still has shoe soles, or if she still cuts window grilles for others. What I know is that she never left. In another universe, in my dreams, and in my memory.