Saturday, February 7, 2015

Flash! Friday Stealing + Waiting, Always

by Michael Seese

It's Friday (as I write this) so that can mean only one thing....

Flash! Friday.

I had another inspired week, coming up with two tear-jerkers. We were asked to include as a thematic element a fleeting moment, and work from this picture.

I posted the first story, "Stealing," pretty early. If I may blow my own horn, it's gotten a lot of favorable comments.

By law, every room at a daycare center must have a direct exit to the outside.

That's critical.

Sitting in the office, talking to the center's director, I pray she can't tell I'm sweating bullets. I try to be cool, but then nearly blow it when she asks my name, and I start to give my real one.

As she drones on about the center's certifications and award programs, I stare at the claustrophobic walls. The photos mock me. Happy parents, happy children.

I hate myself right now. But desperation often consumes one's morality.

The director walks me to the "big room," where toddlers play on the floor. The red sign to salvation is straight ahead. I look out a window and see the bus one stop away. It's time to move. I reach into my pocket and finger my cell phone, speed-dialing the number I had entered outside. A distant phone rings.

"Excuse me a minute," she says.

My legs will me to the door. I put my hand on the cold metal and freeze. I look back. She's watching me.

I run over, give her a quick hug, and whisper, "Daddy's gonna miss you. But don't worry. They'll take care of you."

Then I disappear from her life.

Then came "Waiting, Always."

Until the day he died, Louis stood waiting for her. Waiting for his Chloe to emerge from the Métro station and cross the Place de la République. She would see him, and smile. He would kiss her lightly on the cheek, then take her hand and walk her home.

They might not have met were it not for a moment's intrusion. One rainy April afternoon, as Chloe crossed the cheerless Place, a passel of pigeons took flight. Startled, she recoiled and deposited the contents of her sodden umbrella on a man passing by.

She blushed.

Je suis vraiment désolée.

Louis simply beamed.

They were the unlikeliest of matches. She, an advocate. He, a laborer. She might not have given him a second look, had she not noticed the grace with which he shucked the water from himself. Taking an uncharacteristic gamble, she asked if he, by chance, enjoyed dancing.

Mais oui. Beaucoup.

That magical moment eased into 45 years of wedded bliss, three children, and eight grandchildren.

And so, until the day he died, Louis stood waiting for her. Waiting for his Chloe to emerge from the Métro station and cross the Place de la République.

Even though his Chloe had passed ten years before him.

And tomorrow, look for my latest Janet Reid entry.

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