|Product dimensions:||5.50(w) x 8.20(h) x 1.00(d)|
|Age Range:||18 Years|
About the Author
Read an Excerpt
There were times, after he left, when I would see my father go by on the street or look at me from a car windowin fleeting seconds. Then I would realize the trick my mind had played. When I was younger and my cat died, for weeks afterwards, out of the corner of one eye I saw him run through the kitchen or dart under a table making ghost images.
I hadn’t expected him to return, and certainly not in an alley in the middle of a snowstorm to give me a fucking heart attack. Then to see him standing there like a scarecrow. He was so thin, his hair scraggly and almost bald on top, his coat stained. He had this serious bandage on one hand. I thought he was sick or had gotten into a brawl or both. But then he said he had good news and that didn’t sound like cancer or a bar fight to me.
I saw how sorry he was about things. He even told me he liked my hair. I recorded that lie with the Hasselblad and the way he flinchedhe could be pretty straightlaced. The minute he wanted to go over to the deli I knew that if I sat down and heard the whole, miserable story of the last two years, I’d feel sorry for him. I’d feel so sorry I’d do whatever I could to drop the hard days he had handed us like a collection of broken tools we could neither fix nor throw out until he got home. But then, as we were sitting in that booth, I thought about it again. And I imagined as soon as he’d walk through the door Mom and Lola would flutter with nerves while I looked on wondering what he was up to. I didn’t want to see them get hurt a second time.
“I brought everyone a little present,” he said. “Just something from the airport. I didn’t have time to plan ahead.”
It occurred to me that his pack contained everything he owned now. He had left the furniture when he went to New Jersey. He had left his share of the wedding china and the silver set, the linen and rugs, the framed art and the lamps, the appliancesall the items we had to sell. He went away light of possessions. He came back thin and empty. We didn’t need empty. We had enough of our own.
When Dad got up from the table and went off to the bathroom to make himself presentable, I knew this was about Mom. And in that moment, I honestly didn’t care who he was if he was going to show up out of the blue and make things harder for her. I felt jumpy and picked up his phone.
He didn’t have any pictures or music or much in the way of apps. He always said he was all thumbs, that it was easier to sit down and write a letter or talk by phone. He didn’t have a password and the number code was the one he always used: 5050. I started to scroll through, saw the name Edie, and had no idea who that was. I heard the door to the men’s bathroom open. I saw him pay the check at the register and make arrangements with the waitress to wrap the food. Sliding back into the booth he placed his things in his pack, held it up and then seemed to realize how damp it was on the bottom. He wiped the seat and rested the pack on the floor again.
As he stirred his coffee, I had this picture in my mind of cutting the ropes to the bottom of his feet and watching him drift off, getting smaller and smaller.