Back from vacation, Kyle goes about like a zombie. His boss finally calls him on it and tells him to go until he can get his head in the game. He takes the time to visit his mother and get things straightened out with her. Finally, he knows it’s time to talk to Fr. Michael.
When he got home, he started the lengthy process of calling his father. When he eventually got through to the mission, his father was out on a home visit.
“I’ll tell him you called,” Pablo assured him. “Thank you, my son. This means much to him.”
The next call was the hardest. Instead of calling Emily himself, he asked Carmelita to put a call through. They made up some bogus company name and persona. Once she was through the switchboard, Kyle took the phone. The next voice he heard was Emily’s. She sounded subdued and professional, but more vibrant than he could remember.
“It’s me, Em.”
“Kyle!” Her voice sounded wounded.
“Please, please don’t hang up. I had to call once more and tell you I’m sorry. I know it may never make any difference to you. I wouldn’t blame you for hating me the rest of your life, but I had to hear your voice once more. I had to tell you once more how much I love you. I can’t stop thinking about you.”
Her only reply was a sniffle.
“I went back to work today. All I did was think of you. I didn’t get a damn thing done. I couldn’t see how floor polish held a shine to your smile.”
There was a muted snort. He knew she was trying not to laugh at his stupid joke.
“Anyhow, I’m waiting for a call from my dad. I finally got the balls to call and tell him I forgive him. He wasn’t there when I called…. So I should let you go.”
“How are the kids?” she asked suddenly.
“They’re good. Confused. They miss you. They really took to you, Em. Mindy asks about you every day.”
“What do you tell her?” she sounded choked up.
“I tell her I hurt your feelings and you’re upset with me. I deserve your anger, Emily, but not your contempt.”
His home phone started to ring. Carmelita answered it, motioning to him that it was his father.
“Hey, I need to go. My father’s on the other line. I love you.” He hung up quickly before she could reply. He could handle her silence better than her contempt.
His father sounded tired, weak. Their conversation was brief, but he felt better once it was over. They made plans to meet in Miami in a couple of weeks when Fr. Michael was due to return to the states. He hung up sometime later, exhausted.
“You’ve had a big day, baby.”
“Yeah, Lita, I have. What’s tomorrow?”
“How about a day trip?”
“We haven’t been to the springs in awhile. Do you think the kids would like to go rafting? Maybe snorkeling?”
“I don’t know about them, but I’d love the hell outta that!”
They plotted and planned their day trip, occupying enough of Kyle’s mind so he didn’t think about how precarious his own life was.
Before going to bed early, he ordered more flowers to be delivered to Emily the following day. He hoped the note with them would make the right impression. “You might not remember, but it’s our 720 hour anniversary. That is, of course, the orchid anniversary. These flowers aren’t nearly as beautiful as you, but I hope you’ll accept them. I love you, Kyle.”
The trip to Blue Springs was more fun than they’d had in years. Even the sightseeing in Mexico hadn’t been as much fun. They came home, bug bitten, sunburned and happy. The phone message light was flashing rapidly, indicating multiple messages.
The kids ran upstairs to bathe while Carmelita called to order pizza. Kyle pushed the button for the voice mail.
“Hi, Kyle, it’s Chris. Call me when you can. I just got this really weird call from Mom about meeting someone in Miami? What the hell, dude? Call me!”
The next was from his mother telling him that she and Chris would be joining him in Miami when he went down to see his father.
Third was the voice he’d been waiting to hear. “Hi. The flowers are beautiful. Thank you. 720 hour anniversary, who knew? I guess you’ll always be better at remembering things like that than I will. Thank you.” She hesitated again before hanging up as if she wanted to say something else. He heard a sniffle, a click and the buzz of the phone. It might not seem like much, but it was progress.
© Dellani Oakes