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The Eclectic Pen - none as of yet, II

By: Tabitha C. (tcarlsonwade)   + 2 more  
Date Submitted: 2/1/2007
Genre: Literature & Fiction » Short Stories & Anthologies
Words: 1,183

  He rolled over, squinting at the flourescent green light of his alarm clock and, sleep-clumsy, fumbled with the buttons until he had stopped the wailing. 5:55am. It was lucky, the repeating number. He always set the clock for that time, whether he had to get up or not. Laying back on the pillow he yawned and streched then pulled the blanket back up to his shoulders. He was exhausted. And he was getting too old for this kind of schedule. Another two weeks on the road started today, but he had to pick up his truck an hour and a half away before he could get started. His mother would keep the kids. The kids would keep an eye on his mother. He sighed. Pushing the blanket off, he sat up, hunched on the side of the bed. His back was already sore—he'd thought it would be alright after a week's rest. Of course, it hadn't really been a rest. There was the new washer and dryer he had surprised his mother with—and had to move. Then there had been the furniture his oldest daughter had asked him to help rearrange. He smiled. She had made a huge lunch for him and her brother to thank them for helping. Then, before they could leave, he'd realized he had a flat tire. So there had also been that to contend with. Standing up, he reached for his pants on the chair beside the bed, stepped into them and fastened his belt. He hated to admit it, but he was looking forward to sitting for the next two weeks. Coming home after such trips, it was inevitable there would be a to-do list that would come close to putting him flat on his back. He sat back down on the side of the bed and opened a dresser drawer, rummaged through the sock-ball balls, separated a pair and pulled them on.

The kids were nearly all grown, now. His baby girl would be fifteen in a month. He couldn't forget to find something for her birthday while he was gone. Her face flashed into his head. He paused at buttoning his shirt for a moment and stood there. What to get her? Most of her friends already had cars at fifteen. He was all to painfully aware of what he couldn't give his kids. They didn't seem to mind, much. Occassionally an issue would come up regarding something one of them really wanted—something "every one else had." But, for the most part, they were good about being content with what they had and saving up the meagre allowance he was able to slip them. Fifteen. He could hardly believe she was that old. Of course, she didn't act it, sometimes, but that was partially his own fault—and everyone else's in the family, as well. They had all babied her, fussing over her even more after the divorce. She'd been four years old. A baby. He shook his head again, and roused himself back to dressing. He wiggled his feet into his new shoes—a present from his mother, they were a barely-worn pair of diabetic shoes his dad had gotten, not liked, and refused to wear again. He didn't have diabetes, but she thought they would be supportive for his back. He wore them to make her happy. She couldn't do much for him, but when she could it made her happy to feel like she was a genuine help. Of course, there was no way he'd ever be able to repay her for everthing she had done for him and his kids since the divorce. Leaning over his knees, he hoisted first one, then another foot up and tied his laces.

Standing at the dresser, he reached over and turned on the lamp. An accidental glimpse of his face in the mirror was enough to let him know he didn't want a closer look. There were deep shadows under his eyes, and he had lost about five more pounds. He knew he was aging quickly. It was amazing how he could go for years without noticing any major change in his appearance, then suddenly wake up looking ten years older. Well, he guessed that was an exageration, but it seemed to be the case. Picking up his wallet and sliding it into his back right pocked with one hand, he scooped up the loose change with the other. He glanced at it, making a quick mental guesstimate of how much was there. It looked like enough for a coffee at the gas station. And maybe a danish. He shook his head ruefully. It was depressing, the way he had to count change these years. But, at least he had change to count. He dumped the change from one hand to the other, then let it slide out of his hand into his pocket. He reached for his keys, picking them up by the used-to-be-green matted rabbit’s foot. Things could always be a lot worse. That was his way: looking at the bright side. A little cliché, but it had worked for him so far. And for the kids. How else would they have had even close to a normal childhood? His mother had helped there, too. She had been reluctant at first to step up as an authority figure, but she had. They resented her, of course, but they knew she loved them, and they loved her. It was an odd relationship his kids had with his mother. She was their mother, too, these days. He thought she'd much rather be just a grandmother, but that was not how things ended up. Oh, well.

He was sure that somewhere down the road, something would shed light on the reason things had turned out the ways they had. Calvinist to the core. That was him. His relationship with God was what had kept him going. He'd watched a program on the history channel the other night with the kids. It was about the puritans and separatists coming to America. He knew from sermons that they were the "fathers' fathers'" of his own beliefs, but found it hard to identify with the dark view of humanity and providence that they saw evidenced in the world. For himself, the idea of predestination had always been a comforting one: "All things work together for good." How many times had he repeated that verse to his kids. Romans chapter eight, verse twenty-eight. There has to be, must be a reason for the things that happen to us in this life, he told them, even if we can't see it at first. It was there. Yes, they’d be fine, his kids. He just kept on keeping on and they kept on growing. They’d seemed to manage fine so far without him around. He spent every minute he was home with them. He just wasn’t home very often. He turned off the light, tucked his bible under his arm, grabbed a jacket in the other hand, and headed to brush his teeth. Yes, things would turn out right in the end. He hoped.

The Eclectic Pen » All Stories by Tabitha C. (tcarlsonwade)

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Comments 1 to 2 of 2
IONE L. (zaneygraylady) - 2/2/2007 9:48 AM ET
I can identify with this. I was brought up Calvinist. This is very well written. Could be the begining of a book. I would like to see how things turn out.
Grace D. - 2/2/2007 10:51 AM ET
very good story - write more
Comments 1 to 2 of 2