A Breakfast in July

I.

In July, the weather turned warm with intense sun rays making their ways through glass windows and pale skin. It was a summer weekend that radiated warmth and suggested new chapters and unplanned beginnings. Sybil woke up and felt the fresh air entering her room through the open window. A thought of spending the day out came to life. Maybe we can go to a nearby restaurant, Sybil thought to herself. She decided what her order would be: an omelette with hash browns on the side, and a cup of hazelnut milk. Sybil could hear her stomach growl. People would usually spend a long time deciding on what to wear, but not Sybil. Her choice of clothes had already been made. A light blue summer dress, the one with large white daisies printed on it, the one she has never had an opportunity to wear, would be perfect for an occasion such as this one. As for the hairstyle, Sybil would twist her hair and curl it into a bun, and she would apply some sunscreen on her face.

“Today is going to be a different day,” Sybil whispered. “I’m going out for sure,” she said in a higher tone, and then stretched her arms and back. Her mother knocked the door and let herself in, and walked towards Sybil’s bed.

“Good morning,” she said.

Sybil looked at her mother with a feeling of excitement printed colour on her cheeks, and held both of her arms up high – a gesture she used to do when she was a child who didn’t develop a solid vocabulary yet. Sybil is not a child anymore. In fact, she is in her early twenties. Her mother held her from the waist while she rested her arms over her mothers’ shoulders as if hugging her. Then she placed Sybil on the wheelchair gently. She turned behind the wheelchair and patted Sybil’s right shoulder and nodded out of a force of habit.

“Mom, would you like to go to The Breakfast Club today?”

She squinted at her daughter for a moment then she made a sound of agreement – she got used to Sybil’s morning routine. 

II.

I head to the kitchen to pour a glass of water. I can hear Sybil’s voice humming in her room. She is getting prepared to go out for a breakfast with me; a mother-daughter day out. She loved going out with me when she was younger, and my favourite days used to be the beach-days when we went to tan and lay under the sun to enjoy the dosage of vitamin D. We would eat breakfast at a local restaurant located on the beach side, and I remember that Sybil always wondered why the seagulls stayed in one place since they got wings and they could fly all the time. My daughter liked travelling and discovering new places and that was the main reason behind her becoming a photographer in the first place.

Sometimes I would sink in long reveries thinking of hundreds of ‘whys’ and ‘ifs’ – the guilt is eating me alive. I spend a significant time of my day wondering what happened to Sybil. “

“I should have taken her to another hospital,” I would tell myself, “I could have found a better doctor.” These thoughts keep floating in the back head and deprive me of sleep. I feel restless.

Sybil rarely goes out of her room anymore, expect for her medical appointments. I got used to her morning routines by now: every morning when I enter her room, she would act excited and ask me to take her out for breakfast or lunch. I would get excited too; I want her to be happy again, but I know that she would change her mind soon after that, and would cancel the plans as soon as we reach the front door. It saddens me to see how lonesome she has become, and how massively she changed after that accident.

My baby was born in February with glowing red hair. She was a frightened little child and I was acting like one myself. It is true that I had Sybil when I was in my thirties but I got terrified after her birth, and I was so inexperienced. However, I fell in love with her as soon as I laid my eyes on her, and I vowed to her small ear that I would take care of her and love her unconditionally. I believed with all my heart that I would be able to shield her from all what is dangerous and unjust in this world.

The house was empty and felt cold when Sybil was in the hospital – she needed to stay there for more than three weeks, until her condition got stable. I organised a welcome party for her arrival, and I ordered our relatives and friends to never mention Sybil’s accident, not even once. Triggering one’s trauma can be devastating, and I didn’t want my daughter to be subjected to that. Even after Sybil’s arrival, the house still felt cold, and it is more than I can bear.

It is supposed to be the other way around; parents get vulnerable and their children take care of them. I can’t watch my daughter abandoning her life.


Esraa Husain is a non-binary creative writer from Kuwait. Esraa writes in two languages, English and Arabic, and publishes creative fiction and nonfiction pieces in literary journals and magazines, and in online based platforms. Esraa is currently located in the UK to work and to pursue postgraduate studies. Esraa likes to perform creative writing pieces in open literary nights and open mic nights in both Kuwait and the UK.

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