Afternoon Story

Wynn ran inside and was about to call out for her mother when she saw her napping in front of the game show channel, her glasses threatening to fall. Wynn walked slowly towards her, trying not to get her size three feet and barely 70 pounds of weight to wake up the floorboards her dad long promised to fix. The little girl took off her mother’s glass undetected and then went upstairs.

She felt tired after a day in the sun. She had played house, car driver, and doctor with her imaginary friends, her stuffed animals, and their dog Blake. He had gone inside a few minutes ahead of her to take a nap. Everyone was sleepy around here. Her mouth stretched into a large O as she climbed the stairs.

Once inside her room, she picked one of her favorite story books her dad used to read to her before bed each night. Some days he would even read to her in the afternoon after a play date, kind of like today. Now he was gone somewhere in the clouds. Wynn tried to find him again today up there, but all she saw were animal shapes, a few alphabet words, birds and airplanes. She didn’t see her father in the clouds. Maybe he would be in a cloudy night sky, she had wondered for the first time. If she did enough for the day, time would pass quickly and that meant she would be closer to another chance to see her father tonight.

He had promised to be home for an afternoon story time, but he never showed up. Something important had to be happening in the clouds because he never broke his promises to her. Maybe that’s why there hadn’t been rain for days until the day he left. Wynn never thought her dad was so important to the big universe. He was a rainmaker and worked for a cell phone company?

Most of the kids at her schools had doctor dads, ones that stayed home, construction daddies, and her best friend had a father who sold houses. Wynn’s parents had brought this one from him and ever since then they had all been friends. She hadn’t seen them in awhile since her dad left to go make rain. Her mother had also taken her out of school so they could spend more time together. Wynn was somewhat concerned her mother was going to go away, too. She never knew her father’s parents or her mother’s mother, but her grandfather had left to go stop earthquakes a year ago.

Wynn walked to her dad’s study. The door was open and it still smelled like him: baked apple cinnamon pies, paper, and a bit of rust. She placed her storybook on his desk and sat in his chair for awhile. She role played things he would say to her from across the desk, things she sometimes didn’t even understand but would nod to say that she did. After that, she went by the window where his rocking chair sat titled but still. Next to it hung his favorite long black coat and bob hat, which the clouds gave back to her mother for his service.

She climbed into his rocking chair and sat with the book in her lap. She cleared her throat and began to read out loud. Wynn knew reading always brought things in her mind to life and she was certain the clouds would give his coat and hat life if she read to it as well. It was a fitting trade. Though it was difficult to understand and read some of the words, she was sure at any moment her father would help her by explaining things in a way she could understand.

The little girl looked up hesitantly at the silhouette coat and hat figure, waiting for it to animate. She sighed and pouted, thinking she was doing well enough to get him to come back to her, but still, nothing. She stood up and looked up at her imagined coat and hat father with hands akimbo, a pout and furrowed brows. It didn’t move so she tugged at his jacket. Maybe he was hiding beneath it. Her dad always liked playing hide and seek. She giggled and opened his jacket, expecting to see him.

There was only the tall, slim piece of wood holding up the jacket and hat. Did she not try hard enough? Wynn didn’t want to give up. This had worked before after all, if just for a moment. She sat back down and kept reading. By the end of the book he would definitely show up.

As she read, Wynn began to feel the tiredness of the day climb into her mind, making it difficult to read beyond certain paragraph. Something was pushing her eyelids to a close and wouldn’t stop. Wynn wasn’t sure when it happened, but soon she was no longer reading. She was asleep.

After a few moments, the coat shivered slightly and unhooked itself along with the hat from the wooden holder with its invisible hand. It stepped forward with its unseeable feet and walked to the sleeping girl. The coat and hat man lifted her cautiously and took her to her bed where it completed reading the afternoon story she did not get to finish.

Written 2013.

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