by Marsha Steed
It was a dark and stormy night. Afternoon had drawn to a close.
Thunderheads made their appearance and the air was charged with pre-storm
tension, a sense of expectation permeating every breath. Again on
the maps the hot and cold fronts danced their dance, touching and separating;
touching and separating, finally clashing in inevitable mixing, unleashing
fire and water and air upon the land. It was a wondrous and passionate
interplay of power and submission traded back and forth. A majestic
display of frolic and intensity intertwined like oaks and roses.
"Rest easy and all else will come." I told myself.
She tiptoed into the living room hoping not to disturb the rest of
the household. She needed to be alone, to revel in the history and
scents of the place. It was as she remembered it. Cool and
warm at the same time. A blanket of adulthood covering the soft down
of her childhood memories. She looked across the room over the organ.
The large array of photo's called to her in silence. She was obedient
to its beckoning. Faces of people she had known smiled back at her
in through their veils of social expectation.
She knew even before she got there what she would find. The
third on the right, second from the bottom. There he was, dare she
look? His eyes the same haunting brown that she remembered.
Yes, he looked at her even now. Why was it that life tossed out promises
and then held them like a carrot in front of a greyhound? Funny,
even four children and twenty years later her stomach knotted up at the
face in the photo. She looked one way and then the other, as if someone
was going to be up at this hour spying on her actions. Her fingertips
reached out tentatively the cool celluloid would feel as it always did.
She often wondered if they noticed the fingerprints.
Yet she did not feel the cool touch and pulled back. Her fingers
felt as if she had been stung. They tingled and smarted like when
you touch the tip of a cactus, but there was no real pain. It was
more shock. . . She backed away, the eyes followed her. They were
dark eyes, piercing. The deepest brown still stared back at her and
she thought herself foolish for the reaction.
~What do you think, that I would remain away forever?~
She gasped backing into an end table. The lamp teetered and
she spun to catch it before it fell. Lightening
shattered the night outside the window. When she turned back
around, the photo looked as it always did. She ventured forth her
palm again, tentatively, hesitatingly. This time the feel was as
she always remembered. Cool and detached, like something held captive
behind an impenetrable prison.
Moving away again was difficult. She knew she wasn't sleepwalking.
She had been down here too many times in the middle of the night for that
to be true. The house was as silent at a catacomb. The dark
shadows had never bothered her before, yet tonight they seemed to mock
her like each one was hiding something that she needed to know.
The inadvertent grappling with the lamp had scattered dust from the
ancient shade all over the room. Every beam of light seemed to be
a spider web radiating out from the dull glow of the lamp. She was
tired, but not tired enough to return to her bed. She liked the night.
It was peaceful and comforting. She had often thought that she would
prefer to live in it as opposed to the stark 'reality' of the daylight.
"Walking the night again sweetheart?" She recognized the voice.
The mocking tone of the endearment rattled her like nothing else.
Whirling around she looked at the lips that spoke words that warred openly
with the tone with which they were offered.
"Just getting a little air." She berated herself for the tremble
in her voice. The weak breathiness that belied her fear, her anxiety.
She looked away unable to bear the face any longer. "I'll be back
to bed soon." Turning back towards the portrait she folded her arms
obstinately around herself. He would be angry . . . no . . . angry
wasn't the right word, disappointed. Yes, that was it.
"Aright, you know I only want the best for you, do be careful."
The voice grew softer as the speaker turned away from her and headed back
up the hall. She sighed visibly with relief. No scene tonight.
It was a short reprieve of course, but it *was* a reprieve. She was
at least glad of that.
Once more she moved forward. The hair on her arms stood on
end. Certainly her insubordination whether belligerent or not, would
be noticed. She didn't care. She had to touch the face once
more, she had to look into those eyes and hear what they told her.
The turbulent communication made her susceptible to the messages, any message,
that the bearer or those eyes wished to give her. She listened
for a moment. Thunder rumbled outside, but in here there was only
silence. The click of the heels in the hallway had disappeared followed
by a dull click of a lock. She pressed her cheek against the cool
glass and turned to place a kiss where her cheek had warmed the place.
The taciturn gaze only continued forward, she whispered softly before turning
away, "Goodnight Daddy".