Running on Empty

BY Matthew Klein

“running on empty”, topic for discussion at next meeting

The day started with the promising welcome of a burnt orange horizon, it was going to be another fine summer day. The evening before was a baffling and exhausting moment of chaos as we made a feeble attempt to organize ourselves for our first family holiday. The clothes and ancillaries were easy to pack, the bottles, nappies, wipes and extra change of clothes just fitted in to the stuffed suitcases. Knowing we had the camping gear to pack as well as the usual necessities meant that we were limited to space. And without a trailer or roof racks, it left us little choice but to make do with just the single suitcase. And of course the wife’s oversized toiletry bag. With which not only housed her must have hair and make up products but also an array of useless items such as a hair straightener and hair dryer. It would be much more permissible and useful if she was to have brought the kitchen sink. A camping trip is indeed no place for the faint hearted or the soft prissy ladies of our time. Something my wife certainly is not, she is as hard as they come. Not only ready to get her hands dirty and try new things but also willing to make an effort for me and our boy. It is no wonder that not only in her actions but also in her presence that I find her beauty so powerfully overwhelming. An attraction that goes beyond her natural beauty that draws me nearer with every glance, and helps me to understand and appreciate the big hearted women she is. But one thing will never change, I shall never understand the need for a hair dryer when you go camping. And the only other worrying consideration is how her Mother is in many ways as strong and tough as she. Of course she had to get these traits from someone but it is ever more worrying, especially since I dubbed my Mother-in-law , the `Dragon Lady’.
With the car packed all was ready for us to make a start for our destination. The car was clean, fueled, oil & water topped up, and the tyres had been checked and the pressure set correctly. Nothing was going to stop us now. We had worked too hard and waited too long for this opportunity to enjoy a holiday. We had been running on empty keeping up with the bills working ever so hard to also raise our son in as good an environment we can. I stood at the front door as I called out to Nicole. I was eager to hit the road before traffic became to congested. With a loud cry came the reply “Coming. Can you get Griffynn in to the car?” I stood almost bemused as I considered the task that was asked of me. My reply was slow even though it had occurred to me that I had not seen Griffynn since earlier that morning. I replied as I rushed through the house with a sense of urgency. My reply confused and upset Nicole somewhat, “Where is he? I haven’t seen him anywhere. It was then that I noticed the back door a jar immediately I pushed through out into the backyard. Nicole followed me her shrill voice reached out to me in panic, “where is he?” It was though I couldn’t breathe, worry had set in and the only thoughts I had were the worst. As I did a quick run around calling out his name and searching for our son there was nothing else I could think of. Not even my worried wife would distract me from my task as I frantically searched for our son. After a few quick minutes it was obvious he had not gotten out from the backyard nor was he hiding anywhere outside. Immediately I doubled back in to the house pushing past Nicole as I swung the back door open. Again I called his name as I searched through cupboard and room. No answer, nothing but silence met my desperate voice as dread started to settle in. In my despair I took my frustrations out on Nicole, she should have been watching him. He was inside, she. I stopped as I saw the shock in her eyes it wasn’t her fault and she was just as concerned as I. My voice was nothing but a shameful whisper as I offered two simple words, “I’m sorry.” It was not enough nor comforting, it only angered her more. I had no right to lay blame on her, for it was not her actions that caused us to be in such a dilemma. And the words I used were not only not fair but harsh and unnecessary. In truth I was only lashing out as I had realized that I too had failed in looking after our son. I too should be keeping one eye on him and one ear keen. He is so fast, he could have gone straight under my nose without me noticing. Nicole continued to glare at me angrily as she tried to find the words in which to fight back, just as she was about to let loose there came a knock from the front door. We both ran to the door bickering to one another. As we neared the front door we noticed Amanda our next door neighbor. “Hi guys sorry to bother you but I just wanted to let you know.” Before she finished her sentence Griffynn stepped out from behind Amanda with a simple reply, “Mummum, Daddy, Woof Woof.” Nicole pushed past opened the door and scooped him up in her arms her concern instantly changed to a sign of relief. I too let out a deep gasp, as I took a large deep breathe in, swallowing and clearing my throat. “Thank you Amanda. Where was he?”. Amanda stood stunned and confused about all the fuss we were making but replied politely. “He came over on his own asking for Woof Woof. I believe he heard Bonnie barking and came over to play. So he was in the back yard with Ben and I playing catch with the dog. But Mum said I had to bring him home because he needed changing. Anyway I have to go have a nice trip.” And with that Amanda walked off waving and blowing a kiss to Griffynn she soon turned and was out of sight behind the fence. Nicole and I both huddled together and embraced our son. The thought of losing him or having him get hurt was so terrifying. We both looked at one another and smiled we had forgiven one another but the lesson was never forgotten. We would head of on holiday and enjoy our much deserved break. But one thing will be for sure, we will never let the little one out of our site ever again.