I’ve never been the type to purchase the newest technology. I’ve had the same cell phone for 7 years and it’s still kicking. Granted, there’s not much I’d expect out of an old flip phone, but still. Functional is functional, and if nothing else, my things work. That’s more than I can say for these young kids.
I reared back hoping to connect with all the force and frustration I’d held up to this point. I swung and missed, horribly – my worst nightmare come true. It was like those dreams you have where you’re fighting for your life only for every hit to land softly against your enemy’s body.
“You should have called first. What if I wasn’t home?”
“Haha! Seriously? You’re always right where I left you – uncomfortably comfortable in that same cushy, sunken in spot. Speaking of which, it’s high time to get that reupholstered, don’t you think?”
“Why are you bothering me — You know what? It doesn’t even matter, I have work to do.”
“Yeah, I’m aware, but it’s really important this time, I swear.”
“Click…click,” each turn of the tarnished knob was accompanied by a barely noticeable response from the gears. Marge had changed his mind. Once sure of the need for a chocolate fix, the shiny neon green candies from the center machine now beckoned him. Marge wasn’t normally a fan of these types of clearly artificial confectionaries, but something about this candy machine appeared promising.
Papers stacked to the ceiling surrounded the living room area, only surpassed by chipped dishes covered in crusted food and mold. We kicked the debris in front of us in opposite directions, hoping to make a pathway for ourselves to a destination of which we were unsure.
She turned her face away from his and began busying her mind with menial tasks. An awkward silence occupied the space between them.
“Well, aren’t you gonna say anything? Please, say something.”
The silence continued. She couldn’t imagine what more there was to discuss. In so few words, he had destroyed everything.
Children gathered, giggling as they pursued each other around the colorful sculptures. The sound, which would otherwise spark joy, exacerbated her terror.
“Xay? Xay? Xavier?!” Her cries elevated to screams dissipating into the sounds of children’s laughter and the adult crowd’s hums.
Lynn gathered her thoughts as the sticking wheel of her carryon mocked her. For years she turned scraps of partial truths into murals of a normal life – one where people didn’t care to ask questions so long as you flattered them, and here she was again.
Returning home after her haughty diatribes about small town life and mundane pleasantries was almost humbling. This wasn’t her first time back, but despite managing to stay away for years, it had summoned her, nonetheless.
“Hi, what have you been up to? I’m fine, I was just in the neighborhood, and figured I’d stop by if you’re free. Is that okay?”
Forcing down the tightness in her throat accompanied by what would otherwise be a quivering voice audible through the phone receiver, she arranged to meet with Perry by the end of her call. Perry, not unlike her hometown, was someone Lynn had sworn she’d left behind, but somehow, the two had a stronghold. Lynn never worried whether Perry would say yes. In fact, Lynn couldn’t recall any instance where Perry had denied her. For once, Lynn sort of hoped he’d say no. Perry never complained to Lynn about her sometimes outlandish requests, but Lynn knew what he was thinking. He had a bad habit of showcasing his emotions on his face.
We washed up well, scrubbing every bended knee and pointed elbow until raw. Grandma gathered us together, three at a time, and we hopped our protruding bellies into the large pink bathtub, the oversized green bar of soap rough against our slight hands.
“Can we put some toys in? Mom lets us bring our toys.” Every time, I attempted to persuade her to let me bring my dolls in for a lap or two, and every time she grew a little more tired of me asking.
There was something so strange to him about the habits they’d all accepted – allowing others into their spaces so freely. Without question and with little reservation, they disadvantaged themselves for others. There was nothing he’d missed since being in the “outside world,” and the reasons continually became clearer with each passing day.
Since returning home, it was as if life had continued on without him. He often wondered if anyone bothered noticing that he’d been planted back into his original position, with no regard for his weathered, scraggly roots.
“Can you hold that please?”