by Maria Mize
This is the beginning of a short story... where sometimes silence is golden.
| SILENCE IS GOLDEN, SOMETIMES
"Where were you all night?"
He looked at me without word or explanation -- just a hard-boiled look that clearly said, Don't ask. I calmly and quietly closed my mouth and turned back to the counter./1/
I went about my business getting ready for work, making breakfast, and then walking out the door at precisely 8:10 a.m.
When I arrived home at half-past six, the television was on. Sally, our ten-year-old, was working out math problems at the kitchen table while Kenny was stretched out on the floor of the living room absorbed in Star Trek: the Next Generation. Only Molly, our spotted black and white cocker spaniel, greeted me with wet kisses and wags.
"Where's dad?" I queried fourteen-year-old Kenny.
"He's out in the shed making sawdust. He's in one of his moods."
Frowning, I took off my coat, tossed my purse on the sideboard and went upstairs to quickly change into some comfortable sweats. It gets quite chilly in Southwestern Ohio in the fall. The warmth of our home always promised comfort.
Smelling the soft aroma of meatloaf, roasting potatoes, carrots, celery and onion, I entered the kitchen. With a whisper I thanked Sally, kissing her shiny brown head, a simple French braid running down her back, wispy tendrils framing her face. I put fresh broccoli and cauliflower in the steamer and began setting the dining room table.
"Time to eat! Kenny, get your dad?"
We sat down to a warm and savory supper. As we ate, I looked toward Sally, she was sitting confident and relaxed in blue jeans and turtleneck. I asked how her math was coming.
"Fine, mom. Don't worry, I'm on top of it. Fractions are fun; I just pretend I'm riding a unicycle with my shoelaces tied together," smiling at her own humor.
I glanced down the table at Kenny, a tall lanky, handsome young man with dark hair, a ruddy complexion and blue-green eyes -- a close reflection of his father.
"Kenny, how was your day?"
"I start on Friday?"
"Hey way to go man," Jim beamed.
Kenny kept his grades up and had the diligence to do his best at whatever he did -- a highly motivated, over-achiever. At thirty-two myself, I wasn't so sure that was a good thing. Soon he would be out of high school and off to college. Maybe Jim and I are doing something right... hopeful, I wondered.
After dinner, Kenny and Jim went outside to play a little one-on-one under the light of the moon and the motion light Jim installed last summer on the edge of the house. Sally finished her homework and I cleared the table.
Turning off the television and putting in a soft jazz CD, I walked over to the bookshelf and pulled out the latest book I was reading: A TIME TO KILL. Sitting back into my favorite overstuffed chair, I relished in the peacefulness of the evening and the mystery of John Grisham.
On Friday, Jim and Kenny left early for the game; Sally and I followed later in the red Suburban. The Talawanda Tornadoes were battling our own Lebanon Leopards for a win -- the second game of the season. We watched Kenny wearing a black number eight and dribbling down the floor in his bright yellow uniform -- intensity and determination clear on his face. As he was about to pass to number eleven, a menacing number three in a red jersey shoved into Kenny, and the referee blew his whistle.
And the teams set up for Kenny to take three shots. The crowd grew quiet as the ball whooshed through the basket. Jim and I shared a smile.
Ten seconds remaining and victory was sure as the boys headed down the court to Talawanda's hoop.
Talawanda, desperate for a score, was finally out-played by three points as the bull-horn blew. Game over.
Kenny shouted, "I'll be home at midnight," and we scooted toward the door.
Sally and I met up with Jim at Frisches' for some burgers and then headed home for a carefree weekend. Only Jim never made it home.
I kept quiet as Jim slipped in through the kitchen early Saturday morning, looking down and trudging upstairs for some sleep.
"I was wondering if you could use some tree-ripened McIntosh's?"
"You bet. Thanks, you're the best."
"Have a nice weekend, Helen. If you and Jim need anything, you'll let us know?"
"Sure, Frank. Just promise me you will never move away."
"You got it, Helen. You're stuck with Mary and me for life," he chuckled. "As long as you live here, we'll be your neighbors -- scouts honor," with a friendly salute.
"I needed to hear that, Frank. Thanks again."
I finished the breakfast dishes and began to clean and peel some apples. A nice cobbler with a little ice cream sounded good.
/1/ 1st Peter 3:1-6 (KJV)