“Do you know," Peter asked, "why swallows build in the eaves of houses? It is to listen to the stories.” ~ J.M. Barrie, Peter Pan

5.01.2014

storyaday1: getting home



His car is old and mostly silver and has a wire clothes hanger for a radio antenna, and he always parks it on the street, leaving the driveway for the woman he calls his wife, though she’s actually not; the real one is 20 years and 200 miles away, but this morning . . . this morning he wonders why.  About it all.  About those 20 years spent too far north of where he was raised, about why this woman and not the other, but mostly about that driveway.  Mostly about is this his home or is it not, and if it is, why this woman he calls his wife never shares the street with him, never, not even on his birthday, lets his sad old car celebrate a moment or two in the driveway. 

He works the night shift at a warehouse, listening to everyone’s stories, all of them just gettin’ by, taking smoke breaks together way out in the parking lot where the law allows it, they all walking out together to that spot and talking always about the time:  how late is it, man?  I got a home and a wife waitin’ on me, laughing and making rude remarks that probably no one’s wife would actually take offense at, but he usually says little.  Just joins in the laughter and the having of another cigarette, and doesn’t think too far beyond the smoke.  He’s easy with almost everything, just lets things go by, just does those things he’s supposed to do to earn a paycheck or be allowed to stay in the house.  Sometimes when mowing the lawn or raking the leaves, he allows himself to think of it as his house too, but it’s just a flash of a thought, and he stops it quickly.  Easier to just remember it is hers.

But in the darkness of this early morning he pulls up the street, tired from another overtime shift, and he doesn’t stop the thoughts.  The street has become a harder place on which to park, too many people with too many vehicles moving in, taking up too much space.  He has to pass his/her/their house, wondering about that, has to pass it and turn the car around in the intersection half a block away before he can pull close to the curb next to the lawn he mows.  To be fair, he reminds himself, she mows it also, but this morning he doesn’t feel like being fair, he feels like a cold beer in the coldish early morning to end his workday, to start the real day, so he parks his car there on the street, grabs a beer from the cooler he keeps with him, rolls the window down, and lights another cigarette.  And he lets himself think.  Lets himself wonder if it’s worth it – this woman and this house that hold him at arm’s length.  

It grows chillier, and he rolls the window up a bit, watches a light come on here and there in neighbors’ homes, gives a nod to the newspaper family delivering papers, just nursing the beer and thinking.  And looking at that driveway.

It’s a bad driveway, one car wide, but several cars long, and that’s part of the problem, he once again lies to himself; she has to be able to pull her car out when she goes to work, when he’s just falling asleep in bed, but he knows, especially this morning when the thinking won’t stop, that it’s such an easy fix, that she just won’t allow it.  He’s tried it more than once – parking her car on the street while he moves his up onto the driveway, and then moving her car back – such an easy solution to such a silly situation, but it’s never been worth the grief she gives him when she wakes up and he is caught.  He’s never understood, but he’s always stayed silent, though he shakes his head and smiles his sly smile at her while he goes out to move his car back onto the street.  When she leaves, when the driveway is empty, he doesn’t bother to move his car again.  He just leaves it where it is.

This morning, he lights another cigarette, watching the smoke cover the stars, and takes another sip of beer.  The darkness slowly begins to make its way to dawn, and he wonders how warm it would be 200 miles south, if the 20 years he and his real wife have stayed married would count for anything in her eyes, wonders how it would feel to pull up to her house – another woman in his life with her own house – wonders if she would let him park on the driveway, and laughs at himself for wanting such a small thing.  

The birds begin to wake up, songs hidden behind the leaves of trees, and it occurs to him that they feel more at home here than he does.  That they have no driveways to quarrel about, and for just a moment he wishes for wings.  He would never admit that to anyone, he can just imagine what the guys at work would say to that piece of silliness, but then they are all home snug in bed with their wives, warming against their skin, their cars and trucks no doubt parked in their own driveways.  He wonders how they managed that, what he’s missed over the years, sitting in his silence.  Wonders how to change that, wonders if he really wants to, wonders if perhaps all the home he needs is this broken down car and a cooler of beer and money for cigarettes.   Knows it’s not.  


He opens another beer.  To end and start the day off right.  To slow down the thinking.  He knows the way to his wife’s house – his real wife’s house – and he knows how long it would take to get there.  He doesn’t know anything else but that possibility of road, and this empty stretch of driveway before him, beckoning him in.  He smiles that sly smile, shakes his head at himself, and starts the car.  


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i'm participating in storyaday's may challenge - hence the capital letters you see above, and today's prompt is getting home.  i'm not sure i can write a story a day, not sure if what you see above really counts, but i'm gonna try.  i won't be posting them all here, but i thought i'd let y'all see where i am and what i'm up to.
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4 comments:

  1. I love love love this. (I knew that I would.) You have the magic.

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  2. Magic indeed . . . . captivating and riveting right through to the end.

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  3. where you store all these words in you is beyond me!?
    you truly ARE a magnificent writer of words and stories. i loved the end. did he go?
    i think he did.

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  4. Wow..a story a day. What an undertaking but if anyone can do it you can. I love reading what you write. Please post more. You are a wonderful writer. I wonder what happens when he arrives at his wife's driveway. Love it.
    Angela Vular

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