Part Time

He paused just outside the door to his apartment, key in hand. He could hear the sweet sounds of his children inside, their laughter and banter. It was like crisp, cool water running across the dusty shelves in his soul. He smiled, and he listened. Since leaving their home and their mother he has missed the daily sounds of his kids, only getting to experience it on a part time basis. In short spurts he sees them in the morning and gets to tuck them in at night. He’s grown to hate the look of their bags lying about waiting to be repacked and carried away with their hugs and their kisses; he wishes they would never have to leave.

He stays up just a little too late each night not wanting it to end, and when he comes home from his second job at night on the weekends at 3am, he stands in the doorway to their bedroom, watching them as they sleep, their tender little chests rising and falling, he tucks back in their toes sticking out from the end of the blankets and pulls the covers up as kisses them. Then he silently says a prayer begging his god to keep them safe when they are away. That night he sleeps restlessly because he can’t wait for morning so he can make them breakfast and sit around the table they built together planning their day.

On their last day with him he has to work, so when he comes home at the end of the day and he pauses at the door its silent, no laughter, no giggling, there are no voices. He doesn’t want to open the door; he checks the number on the door and finally goes in, sets down his lunch box, removes his shoes and stands in the doorway of their bedroom. Their beds are made and their bags are gone and his heart begins to ache terribly, he tries to catch his breath but it shallows and he finds it hard to swallow. As the night goes on the color from the sun seems to fade, the air grows stale and he misses them and he wonders just how long his heart can take it.

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