The Key Game

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Historical Fiction  |  House: Booksie Classic
His eyes are dull lifeless orbs, my huband's, that haunted look. I watch my son, so alike and yet so different.

Submitted: August 20, 2007

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Submitted: August 20, 2007

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The Key Game

 

Clearing the dishes I looked from my husband to my son. So different in appearance and yet my boy had already begun to show the stubborn traits of his father. The greatest difference, however, was not in their appearance but in the look in their eyes. My son's so full of optimism and hope, his father's dull orbs, melancholy, haunted.

Leaning back in his chair and tilting his head to the ceiling my husband took one last satisfying breath from his cigarette. When he looked back at the room his eyes seemed if anything duller, more lifeless.

My boy's eyes never left his father, though his eyelids drooped with the effort to hold them up against the tide of sleep that threatened to engulf him.

For my own sake, for my husband's, and most of all for my son's I pleaded in a quite voice, "we'll play the game just one more time, only today," but my husband did not answer. His head averted from me he stubbed out his cigarette and stood.

As I had for so many nights I heard my voice from far away as it mimicked, "ding dong." My son jumped from his chair to answer the imaginary bell.

"Who's there?" He called. I watched the scene like a silent movie with the sound coming to me from a great distance, only a guest, not a player.

" I'll open up in a minute, I'm looking for the keys," my son continued his tirade for the imaginary guests.

"Just a minute, I can't find them, I don't know where Mama put them" he rifled noisily through the draws of the kitchen.

A few moments passed, my mind wandered to those imaginary visitors, growing impatient now, black leather boots stamping on our thin doormat.

"I found them!" my son yelled triumphantly, as he reached his small hand up to the doorhandle and the door swung open.

Forcing myself back into the image, "shut the door, darling" I whispered, "you were perfect, you really were."

He didn't hear, he looked only at the bathroom door, his eyes expectant, as my husband's plaster and dust streaked figure emerged.

The moments seemed to stretch, "well? How did it go?" I broke the silence.

"I still need more time. He has to look for them longer. I slip in sideways all right, but then... it's so tight in there that when I turn... And he's got to make more noise - he should stamp his feet louder."

My son's eyes watched him, never wavering.

"Say something to him" I said under my breath.

"You did a good job, little one, a good job" was his mechanical reply.

"That's right," I encouraged, "you're really doing a wonderful job, darling - and you're not little at all. You act just like a grown-up, don't you? And do you know that if someone should really ring the doorbell someday when Mama is at work, everything will depend on you? Isn't that right? And what will you way when they ask you about your parents?"

"Mama's at work" he recited.

"And Papa?"

He didn't reply, his eyes flickering to his father's face he stared at the floor.

"And Papa?" My husband's words cut in, almost hysterical.

My son turned to me, his eyes for a second reflecting their father's haunted gleam.

"And Papa?" my husband repeated, calmer.

I watched my son, he shuffled his feet, turned, tears glistening, looked at his father and told me what his father's eyes ensured I already knew.

"He's dead."


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