April 2018 Fiction Feature: Abbey James
"Sad Hours Seem Long"
by Abbey James
I look out the window while mom sits in her wicker chair talking on the telephone. Outside in the park, between my apartment and the river, kids are playing. I turn around and ask her if I can go play with them. She holds a finger to me. I go put on a jacket and come back and wait for her permission.
Can I go play? I ask impatiently. She nods and I run out the door, meeting my dad in the stairwell.
Hey son, you ready to go? he says to me.
In a little, I wanna go play.
For a little bit, ok son? We have to go soon.
I say okay as I run down the stairs.
At the front door I watch him run down the stairs. I walk inside and play in the old coin jar and I slip a few quarters in my pocket. She looks at me, hanging up the phone, with a smirk trying not to laugh. You're putting those back, she says.
I'm no thief, I say.
Ryan is down stairs playing with his friends, she says. You want something to drink?
Sure. Got any of the good stuff?
Not for you, she says. How about some water?
I could use a glass, I say.
She grabs a cup and fills it up from the new sink.
This new? I ask.
Yeah, Ryan and me put it in, she says.
He got his handy-man from you, I say.
I know, she says.
I take a sip of my water and look out the window. I spot Ryan in his red jacket kicking a soccer ball. It was nice when we were all together, when Ryan was a baby. Would I go back to the way things were? The water tastes metallic; I finish the rest, and give it back to her. Not the best place for kids to play, I say.
I take the glass from him and put it in the new sink. I look at him while I lean on the counter. It took long enough for him to come around. Turned out to be a good man, a good father. At least I did good in picking a good father.
Where else is he supposed to play, I say.
I nod. Then silence. Not dry or stale, not awkward either. A wonder that he and I can be in the same place and just be quiet.
He looks at the place, at Ryan's art on the refrigerator, at pictures he used to own with me. It's getting dark out. The door opens. It's Ry.
Hey dad, I say.
Have fun? he asks me.
Everyone else had to go home, I say.
My mom kneels down with her arms out and I run to give her a hug. You be good to your dad, she says.
My dad stands there off to the side, jingling and jangling some coins in his pockets.
You're putting those back, my mom says.
He laughs and tells me to get my bag for school.
He takes my hand, drops the quarters in the jar and I look back.
There is a leak of regret, somewhere. I go to the kitchen and grab myself a glass. In the high cupboard behind dusty cookbooks, the pack of cigarettes and vodka wait for me. I bring it over to the kitchen table and sit in the wicker chair by the window. I can imagine him standing in the kitchen, glass in hand. Now it would be different, instead he would be down there, in the park with Ry, teaching him how to throw a ball. Or maybe it was me and it'd never be that way. Either way I am about to be relieved. I ash into the plant that I never water, waiting for it to die, but it keeps on, alive. The phone rings. I ignore it and look out the window. Time slows down. My glass never empty.
In the street, walking to the train my dad holds my hand. I look up at him. Can we take a taxi? I ask.
Then, I think for a moment.
Do you think you and mom will get back together?
I don't think so, kiddo, I don't think so.