The Domino Effect

April 4, 2011
At late nights or early mornings, if you went into the hall, you could hear Susan’s shrieking voice talking nonsense words, her voice traveling down her mother’s corridor and echoing in your ear like shattering glass in a cathedral. She tried to be philosophical, but her words just came across simple, foolish and irrelevant. Susan was now 47 years old, and had 2 children; one she sent off to Florida to live with her dad and the other was off at college. Despite her biological age, Susan was an eight year old, attempting and failing to live in a 47 year old woman’s body. Her body was going through menopause, but her mind failed to register her body’s changes and fell into a stupor. She had fallen in and out of love many times, but her young heart did not know what she had gotten into in the first place. And, most importantly, she did not understand that her children were drawing further and further apart from her as the years went by. The friends she had were just like her and had no job, or family, or real friends, themselves. Yet she made all of her family members-her enemies. Her life was put into a stagnancy that made her feel hopeless and when her body was about ready to give up, she felt as if she had forgotten something and the void that she felt most of her life had never been filled.
When he got home, he washed his hands that were soiled with the toll a hard day’s night takes on a man. His daughter used to call him a workaholic. He fed the cat. He drank some grapefruit juice and left the glass at the side of the bed. He sat on the edge of the bed and counted his money, just as he did everyday. Except that today...tonight, he felt that he just might find it in him to do something that should have been done a long time ago. He was the proud and hardworking owner of Superior Wheels Auto Shop, a well respected business in town. He also was a deacon at the Seventh Day Adventist Church on Pinto Street. He scratched the back of his head; it was a habit of his. Sometimes all the stress of the past, present and what might be ahead of him seemed to pile up at night. It seemed to him that there was something about the night that made all the problems of the world appear, a talent that the day did not possess.

There was the house phone on his bed where he had left it. He had thought of doing it before he went to work, but could not bring himself to do what he felt needed to be done. After what seemed a lifetime of deciphering, he picked up the phone. He picked up the torn piece of paper he had written the number down on earlier in the week. He dialed the number, with a heavy exhale. A young voice answered.
“Uh…goodnight,” he stammered.
“Yes, hello, who would you like to speak to?”
“No, this is her daughter. Do you want to leave a message for her?”
“No, umm, just-”
“Ohh! Uncle Kenny! Sorry, I didn’t recognize your voice!”
“Is this Susan? Susan...this is your father.”

Robert heard the wheels in his daughter’s head clank and come to an abrupt halt. There was a clattering sound on the other end of the receiver. He could taste the bitter taste of confusion, bewilderment, and tension from the other line. The back of his throat tasted like chalk and he felt as if the acid in his stomach had boiled and spilled over his organs, threatening to evaporate what was left of his spirit. That was it-he had wanted to hear her voice for years. He shouldn’t have called, he shouldn’t have thought of calling. He should have left it alone. His daughter, Susan would be 16 years old now-only two years until she could decide to live with him again. She might change her mind if he only got her on the phone. The chalkiness was followed by a sickening sort of sweetness and he thought back to the great but sometimes difficult memories of not too long ago, and wonderful thoughts of what could have been. If only he had loved her right. If she came back he would learn. These were the words that rolled about in his head through out the course of the day. If only. If only those two words could suddenly have life and bring things to the way they could have been. But they couldn’t, he knew that.

But if they could, oh, if they could, he would try his best. He would get help; he would learn to love her-the right way this time. They would stay in on Saturday nights and eat grapefruits and build jigsaw puzzles. He would teach her how to make the plum and root soup. He would leave marshmallows and ‘Raisin Bran’ on top of the fridge because they were her favorites. He would stop coming home late from work and would leave the car shop early just to stay at home with her and blast ‘The Beatles’ and ‘Billy Joel’ on the stereo. If she came back, he would gently wake her up at 4 o’clock on Sunday mornings to go down to the car shop-only this time she would walk to the car herself. If she came back, he would do things right. If only she could come back.

Post a Comment

Be the first to comment on this article!

Site Feedback