To His Knees
This is the 6th in a series called "Our Stories."
People want to be heard. I want to write.
John moves to put his key in the lock, but his arms are full and his hands are tired from a long day in the hot sun, and so the keys fall to the porch floor. He hears them hit the wooden planks, but can't see where they are because it is dark and he forgot to turn on the outside light before he left thirteen hours before and so he throws his foot back and slams the steel toe of his boot into the wooden door. He slams the steel toe of his boot right into the wooden door and he hears it splinter and he yells that is a Motherfucker. The door is a Motherfucker.
John bends to his knees then. He tries to place everything on the floor, set down the grocery bag and his lunch box and the dog food and the mail and the regret, so much fucking regret. He tries to put it all neatly on the porch floor, but he loses patience and everything just falls and so he stands up and kicks it. He kicks all of it and everything scatters about the porch and he stands there trying to find his keys in the mess, in the total mess he's made.
Finally he finds them and he gets in the house and Leon is there at the door waiting for him. Leon is the only one now, the only one waiting when John gets home, and he stops to rub the dog behind his ears and scratch his head and thank him. "Thank you buddy," he tells his friend in a raspy worn out voice. "Thank you."
John turns on some lights then and when he can see he goes back for the things scattered all over the porch. He gathers it up again and carries everything into the house, drops it on the counter. From the grocery bag he pulls out the six pack of beer and then turns to put it in the refrigerator, but when he opens the door he stops. He stops in surprise at how empty it is. How long has it been this empty? How long?
John doesn't take a beer like he'd planned and he doesn't put anything else away. He just leaves the kitchen and goes into the living room and reaches for the small lamp on the table beside the couch and then he sits down. He sits down and he stares at the photos on the wall of a family that doesn't live in this house anymore. They don't live here because John breaks things that are beautiful and they were beautiful and now they are broken and so is he. He's always been broken. That's why he breaks things.
Something catches his eye then. It's under the other couch, shining out at him. He stands up and walks across the room, gets to his knees. He reaches under the sofa and his fingers land on it and he pulls it out. He pulls out the pink wand with the streamers hanging off of it, the glitter all over the star at it's top. He stands up then and stares at the wand and its streamers and glitter and memories and then he snaps it in half. He snaps the wand in half and throws it across the room and moves toward the stairs as the phone rings. He doesn't give a shit who's calling though. He doesn't give a shit so he keeps going, starts walking up the stairs until he hears their voices. He hears them.
"Hello," she says in her sweet child's voice. "You have reached the Samson residence. This is Katelyn." He remembers her handing the phone to her mother then and whispering, "Mommy its your turn," and he can just barely hear it now on the recording, just barely hear her saying mommy.
"And this is Jenna," he hears her say and his heart starts to pound and he thinks it will break out of his chest and he brings his hand there as if to hold it in, as if to keep from dying.
There's laughter then and he remembers her handing the phone to him and kissing his cheek as she placed herself against him and he can almost feel her now, feel her warmth and her love and her begging, begging him not to make her have to leave.
"And this is John," he hears himself say before handing the phone back to his daughter, whose little warm hand he can almost feel now as her voice moves toward him on the stairs.
"We aren't able to take your call right now," she said so long ago, "but if you leave a message we'll get back to you just as soon as we return."
Just as soon as we return, he hears. Just as soon as we return.
He drops to his knees then. On the stairs in his empty home with the voices of his family filling the space all around him, he drops to his knees.