Previous Challenge Entry (Level 4 – Masters)
Topic: ALL TALK, NO ACTION (01/10/19)
TITLE: Watching Through a Window
By Betty Castleberry
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I allowed him to pack his own bag as I always did, tucking in the items he forgot when he finished. He always remembered to pack a few toys, but usually forgot his underwear and toothbrush, seemingly unnecessary items to a six year old boy. The blanket he’d had since infancy, with a smiling brown puppy on it, also always made it into his bag. Although he wouldn’t admit it now, the blanket gave him comfort.
I watched as he settled himself on the window seat, looking out to the road. “Cody,” I said gently. “You have almost an hour to wait. Don’t you want to go play for a while?”
“No. I want to see Dad drive up. He said we’re going to the movies.”
He shifted on the window seat. “Dad said we could go to the park tomorrow. There’s a big slide there. It’s like as big as the world.”
Smiling, I said, “Well, maybe not quite that big.”
“But it’s huge. Then we’re gonna get a hamburger and a milkshake. He's gonna show me how to play his new video game, too. That car one.”
My ex-husband Stuart had every other weekend visits with our son. I crossed my fingers, hoping he would come. In the six months since our divorce, there had been two times he never came to pick Cody up. It would be fine with me if I had Cody all to myself, but he idolized his father. I hated to see him disappointed. "Lord," I prayed silently, "please let Stuart show up. Lay upon his heart how he mustn’t disappoint our son again."
Cody continued to chatter. "I don't know if it's gonna be a scary movie or not, but I'm big enough to see a scary movie. We're probably gonna get pizza, too, and he said I could get extra cheese. But not mushrooms. I hate those."
I studied his face. He had big brown eyes framed by long silky lashes and a smattering of freckles across his nose. His bottom two front teeth were missing. He was a beautiful child.
Reaching for my latest crochet project, I sat where I could see him. He busied himself running a little toy car across the window seat.
When it was fifteen minutes past time for his father to arrive, I texted him. "Where are you? Cody's waiting."
A few minutes later, I received a brief reply. "Sorry, Katy. Detained at work."
I knew Stuart's job rarely, if ever, made him late. A sinking feeling started in the pit of my stomach. Cody waited exceedingly patiently for a little boy.
When another twenty minutes had passed, I said, "I'm going to make some macaroni and cheese. You're going to have to help me eat it."
"No, Mom. Dad said we'd get pizza, remember?"
I headed to the kitchen. "It'll be an appetizer. Besides, I'm hungry."
In a few minutes, my son had joined me in the kitchen. "He'll knock when he gets here, won't he?"
"Cody," I said, spooning mac n cheese onto his plate, "It’s possible your dad isn’t coming and I don't want you to be too disappointed if he doesn't come. You know he's missed before."
"I know, but he was busy. He told me. He'll be here ‘cause he made plans for us." My son shoveled in a big spoonful of mac n cheese. "Know what? Dad said we might even go to the zoo. I want to see the snakes."
I reached over and wiped cheese off his chin. "I don't like snakes much, but I'm glad you do."
When we had finished, I sent Stuart another text. "If you aren't coming, at least let us know." After several minutes, there was still no reply.
Cody ran back to the window seat. I snapped his picture with my phone and sent one last text to Stuart along with the photo. "This is what he's been doing for the last two hours. I hope you're on your way."
While I waited for the reply that probably wasn't coming, I stole a glance at my son. He reached into his bag, pulled out his blanket, and gathered it up under his chin. Then he rested his forehead against the window, straining to see out into the creeping darkness.
1 John 3:18 My little children, let us not love in word, neither in tongue; but in deed and truth.
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