“Hey, calling to see how you’re holding up?”
“Oh, fine. I’m fine. Just… you know. Well, you know, puttering around the garage.”
The man chuckles. It is loud, but quickly fades and something metallic falls in the background. He clears his throat and speaks again.
“She would always come home and take a nap, it was like any other day. I mean, she was out, walking around. We were window shopping after church then came home. She looked at me and said, Honey, I’m going upstairs to lie down. I looked at her, you know, said, OKAY. That was it.”
A leaf silently breaks away from its home in the gentle breeze that drifts through the man’s yard. It sways soothingly back and forth as it falls amongst its brethren upon the moist grass. The man sits on a stool in his garage looking out the raised door, and the four cornered box that in one form or another has always served as his gateway to the world beyond.
A crackle on the other end of the phone breaks the silence only to say, “I know. I’m sorry, Bud.”
The man’s eyebrows lift as if to pull him out from within, and he tells his friend goodbye. His friend asks if he is fine, and a smile forms that none can see, and he replies that he is fine. The call ends with the man saying that he must go inside for he has things to do.
But he has nothing to do. For in his heart, he has nothing anymore.
He slumps at the stool, and continues to watch the season unfold. He puts an old tape in, one that grows more snowy and unrecognizable with each passing day. He sees the pumpkin patch and the corn maze. He smells the crisp apples and warm glaze. He feels the rough yet smooth texture of the gourd between his palms. With the smell of kettle corn in his nostrils he sees her smiling, laughing, twirling, chasing and running away.
He sees her go upstairs, for a nap.
So my reader, when he says he is fine, know this. Know that somewhere a gear has slipped, a belt has snapped, and a cog has worn thin.
For above all, he is not fine.