In that instant Mahoney knew – Friday Fiction
In that instant Mahoney knew he was not ready to give up. Right now the situation seemed impossible, but he would find a way. He had to. At the end of the block, he made a U-turn and headed for the ferry.
Tomorrow he might have to be the bearer of such bad news, but tonight he would simply be a father. He would spend time with his own children and hold them to his heart with a prayer of thanksgiving.
Almost a full two hours before he normally arrived home, Jack Mahoney walked through the front door of his house and called out, “Honey, I’m home.”
There was no answer.
Still no answer.
He walked through the house, a house that was usually filled with noise and laughter—so much noise, in fact, that he often wished for just such a silence. But today, on a day when he was hungry to hear the laughter, to be smack in the middle of all the noise, there was nothing.
He snapped on the television and dropped down on the sofa. Images moved across the screen and spoke words, but what those words were he couldn’t say. Jack Mahoney’s thoughts were elsewhere. He looked at the clock. Five-forty. He would have thought Christine would be starting dinner by now. Peeling vegetables, setting the table, fussing about the kitchen, doing whatever it was she did to make the nightly dinner seem such a momentous event.
He stood, walked into the backyard, and looked around. There were no kids anywhere. Not next door, not two houses over. Even the troublesome twins who lived cattycorner were missing.
Mahoney shook his head. How sad, he thought. All these nice yards and no kids playing in them. He returned to his spot in front of the flickering television, then sat and watched the minutes tick by.
It was five minutes before seven when Christine and the kids burst through the door in an explosion of laughter. She looked over at Jack. “What’s wrong?”
“But you never come home this early.”
“I’ve been home for over an hour-and -a -half.”
“Oh, my gosh,” Christine said. “Why didn’t you tell me you were going to—”
“I hadn’t planned on it,” he answered and left it at that. There was no reason to start explaining something that was almost unexplainable anyway.
Jack followed Christine into the kitchen and listened as she and all three kids spoke at the same time. “It was so much fun,” Jack Junior said. “I got to ride on the Ferris wheel.”
“I wasn’t tall enough,” Chrissie pouted. “I had to go on baby rides.”
“Oh, I wish you had been with us,” Christine said. “The whole neighborhood was there, even the twins.”
Only after several minutes of listening to the fun they’d had at the Saint Vincent’s festival did Jack remember Christine mentioning it weeks earlier. At the time it was something he was too busy to care about, but today he found himself wishing he’d been there.
After dinner Jack dried the dishes, played checkers with his son, and once again told the story of Sleepy Hollow to all three children. He would have thought the girls might ask for something sweeter—Cinderella or perhaps Sleeping Beauty, but no. On the all-too-infrequent occasions when he was home to tell a story, they repeatedly asked to hear about the headless horseman.
That evening after the children were tucked in their beds, he and Christine sat in the backyard and talked.
“When did we get so busy that we stopped doing this?” he asked.
“We didn’t,” Christine answered. “You did.”
It was a full minute before Jack answered. “That will change,” he said, and he meant it.