At Least for Tonight
The difference between money and time is that we always know how much money we have left and we never know how much time we have left. Time, like money, is an uncountable noun, but it does not mean that time is infinite.
On her way back home, Lauren counted the buildings as she passed the streets. To her, the track was anatomy—every turn she would take to round the corners, to the potholes that littered throughout her journey. Here, she used to run around playing “Tag”, fly kites, and ride her little pink bicycle with the neighbors’ kids. Good, old times.
Lauren stopped in front of a remote apartment complex, its walls painted the yellow hues of age. There were no lifts, just a sole staircase connecting four floors of the building together. Exhaling puffs of smoke as she finally climbed up to the third floor, Lauren knocked lightly on the scraped wooden door.
It did not take long for her mother to pull the shivering Lauren inside, greeting her with a complaint about not taking the bus under such demanding weather conditions.
“I thought you had a shift tonight,” her mother muttered unconvincingly, yet her hands quickly poured Lauren a glass of warm water. “Don’t tell me you skipped work.”
“I swapped with a colleague to work the morning shift instead,” she replied instantly.
“Didn’t you say that the evening one pays more?”
Lauren bit the inside of her cheek, “But I wanted to see you, Mom.”
“Mom is not too old, don’t trouble yourself with visiting me,” she kindly smiled and abruptly stood up, walking into the kitchen. “I’ll heat up some soup for you.”
Her house did not change much since Lauren’s last visit—nothing changed, really. Except for her mother—her hair greyed, eyes wrinkled, teeth loosened, arms thinned, and memory faded.
“Mom,” she called out and her mother hummed from the kitchen, “I’ll stay here with you tonight.”
At least I’d know you’re still here with me, tonight.