Porchlight

Marty Salgado

It is four o’clock in the morning and mom is leaving again. I lie in bed and listen hard to her movements in the kitchen as she gets herself ready for work. A quiet scrape of a chair on the kitchen floor, and keys that dangle across the counter as she picks them up. The moment comes, and she steps outside. First, the heavy cherry wood door closes and locks with the turn of the key, and I open my eyes. Then comes a second slam from the screen door. I can’t believe it! She actually left!

With quivering legs from the cold, I jump straight up on my bed. I look outside the window beside me and lift one shade from the venetian blinds. One eye peers out across the dew-covered grass and I see my mom walking towards the green Toyota Tercel parked on the side of the street in front of the house.

I jump off the bed and run as fast as my 6-year-old legs can to the front door. I stand there with aqua-colored night shorts and bare feet and begin to cry silently. Under my breath I mutter, “Don’t leave me, don’t leave me.” I reach my tiny arm to the sidewall where the light switch is for the front porch, and begin flicking it on and off in a Morse code pattern. I hear the car turn off, and immediately fill with fear. Is she mad?

I hear my mom’s footsteps climb each step up the front porch. Both doors open, and she looks down at me in her white blouse with a pin on her left chest that says “Grinder Restaurant” with the name Diane. She wears a dark green skirt and apron, and nylons that I used to pull and snap back on her legs, creating holes in the material.

She sees the silent tears streaming down my face, and as she kneels down, she takes me in her arms. Then the real crying.

“I don’t want you to leave me, please!” I say as I blow my nose into my thin cotton t-shirt.

“I know, I know, I’m sorry. What do you want me to do?”

I feel her embrace under my arms, and pull me forward. I close my eyes and feel her hair against my face as I weep into her shoulder.

Author Portrait

Marty Salgado is currently a graduate student in English at CSU, Chico with an emphasis in Creative Writing. His personal essay, "Vacancy," was published in the literary journal, The Erudite. He is currently working on a full-length memoir focusing on his Mexican-American heritage and childhood growing up in Orange County. He draws inspiration from his family, childhood and friends, who keep him sane.