Ball and Change

I used to run to greet you when you’d walk through the door after work. I was small. Maybe it was 7pm. I’d hear the garage door before it opened. I’d hear you before the dogs heard you, because I’d be waiting, listening. And I’d hear. And then we’d all run over together, me and the dogs, and wait at the door. “Dad’s home.”

Or I’d hide on the couch, the back of it facing the door, when I was even smaller. And I’d pop out to surprise you. And somehow it was always new to you. It was always fresh. I never imagined that you might have had a bad day at work, because there was always a smile waiting for me, too, on the other side of the door. Always a hug, as if you’d been waiting all day to see me like I’d been waiting to see you.

One day, I didn’t get off the couch. Maybe I was 15. And you walked in. I’d heard the door. The dogs didn’t. They were going deaf. I listened to you in the kitchen. You put down your bag. You loosened your tie. I sat silently in the dark. And then you came over to the couch and stood, looking at me. You had thought I wasn’t home, because I didn’t greet you at the door.

Another ten years. The weight of what kept me sitting on the couch back then drags at my feet. It binds them together. It trips me when I run to you now. So infrequently do you walk through the door. A new door. My door, miles away from yours.

The doorbell rings. I perk up. You are on the other side, smiling, as if you’d been waiting all day, month, year to see me. I run to the door. The air becomes molasses, my weights grow heavier. The doorbell rings again. I slow. My ankles bound tighter. I crawl. The door grows closer, the space, thicker. Paralyzed, I run. I finally get to you, reaching out. I turn the knob.

And you’re already gone.

You must have thought I wasn’t home.