Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 - Advanced)
Topic: Huh? (01/21/10)
TITLE: Busy Waiting
By David Story
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Daddy never looked up from his work. “Huh? Oh, that’s nice, honey. Go show it to Mommy.”
The little girl smiled gleefully. “Okay.” She hurried back down the hall.
She patiently waited in the kitchen for him, excited about the news.
After what seemed like forever to her, he came in from his study and plopped himself at the kitchen table. “So, what’s for dinner?” he asked.
She walked up to him as she held a piece of paper in her hand. “All A’s Daddy.”
He rubbed his eyes before responding. “Huh? Oh, that’s good, sweetheart. Now help your mother with dinner, will you. Your father is starving.”
He never looked at the report card.
She walked into his study, paused, and then did a twirl right in front of him.
“I’m about to leave,” she said.
Mom was at the hallway. “It’s her first date. It’s a big one.”
He smiled as his face stared at the papers on his desk. “Huh? Oh, yeah. It is that. Have a great time, honey.” And then he threw in. “He gives you any trouble you let him know he has to answer to me, all right?”
She lowered her head. “All right, Dad.”
He never looked at her new yellow dress ...
He sat alone staring out of the second story window, watching intently as the cars and people passed by below.
A voice from behind interrupted his concentration.
“It’s time for your lunch, Mr. Barnes.”
He didn’t answer. The attendant placed the lunch tray on a table by his bed. A TV was on at one corner of the room. The sound was turned down.
He suddenly felt the attendant’s hand on his shoulder. “Maybe today’s the day, Mr. Barnes.”
He never acknowledged her.
She gently patted him twice on the shoulder and turned to walk away. She stopped short of the door that led out of the one room assisted living apartment and spoke once more. “If you need anything, anything at all. Just push the call button.” And with that, she walked out of the room, the door quietly closing behind her.
He continued to stare and wait.
At one point during his daily “waiting,” he turned his head to the left and his eyes landed on an old worn out cigar box.
He reached out for it with his left hand and lifted it to his lap. He opened it and slowly took out the contents, spreading them on the windowsill in front of him.
There were only three items in the box: a wrinkled crayon colored picture, a faded report card, and an old photograph of a beautiful young girl in a yellow dress.
He stared at the items a few minutes longer and then carefully placed them back in the box.
His attention returned to the window, and the business … of waiting.
He stared at the items for a few minutes longer and then carefully placed them back in the box.
Suddenly, the door to his room opened and a voice called him by name. A voice and a name he hadn’t heard in over twenty-five years.
He turned to see his daughter standing in the doorway.
A tear fell across his face as she rushed over to him and hugged his neck.
Emotion overwhelmed him. “I’m so sorry, honey.” He could barely get the words out. “So much wasted time …”
She put a finger to his lips to quiet him. She leaned in and whispered in his ear. “I’m sorry too, Daddy.” She continued to hug him. “I’m sorry too.”
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