Here's Hoping

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Hearing the sound of kids running through my house after years of blissful, child-free silence is still troublesome, to say the least.

A loud crash comes from the basement.

Fantastic.

I keep my prized baseball memorabilia down there with several written DO NOT TOUCH warnings. Can't six and seven-year-olds read by now? I don't know. Children are puzzle pieces I've had no desire to put together. Here's hoping it wasn't something valuable.

Another crashing sound.

Instant headache.

I groan, cradling my forehead in my palm over a cup of coffee, wondering why I gave them permission to watch a movie in the basement. And why on Earth Nicole thought I'd be a decent father for them, if only temporarily until she comes back.

If she comes back. Here's hoping.

I gaze at the sunroom with its cozy white furniture, fluffy throws, and breezy curtains, a room Nicole said was 'Pinterest perfect,' whatever that means. But it was perfect for lounging in pajamas on lazy Sunday mornings with mimosas and poached eggs, enjoying the benefits of our childless married life.

How lucky we were.

Our weekends belonged to only us. No hauling kids to baseball games. No ballet lessons or homework or birthday parties in noisy arcades and the only kid to set foot on our property was a neighbor boy who mowed the lawn twice a week.

Pure, unburdened happiness.

I was happy to never have kids in my previous relationships.

Nicole was happy to leave her children behind with their father, a man who loved hauling them to baseball games, ballet lessons, and birthday parties with no desire for lazy Sunday mornings over mimosas and poached eggs.

But then he got sick.

And then he was gone, leaving behind two strangers, a boy, and a girl, delivered to our front porch with sad eyes and shaky hands gripping their suitcase handles.

Nicole didn't want them. Nobody did.

So she packed hers and left.

The sounds of someone slowly walking up the basement steps brings on another headache. Nicole's son pauses when he sees me rubbing my temples. He frowns, looking down at the broken signed Rafael Palmeiro bobblehead in his hands.

Not Rafael.

"I'm sorry," he says in a soft, frightened voice, telling the truth instead of lying as I would have at his age.

Huh.

Poor kid.

Been through hell and he's the one who's sorry. And it's funny. That bobblehead took me months to find, but really, it's just painted ceramic. It's not real. Not valuable.

Not important.

I drain the rest of my coffee and rise, already dressed in jeans and a tee-shirt instead of pajamas. I shrug and toss the broken pieces in the trash. "Eh, no biggie. Hungry? I make great poached eggs. And how about we all go to a baseball game today?"

Nicole is never coming back.

And I was wrong. Someone does want them. I just never thought it'd be me. Maybe they'll be able to stay for good.

Here's hoping.




~~~~

Hello, friends, thanks for reading! This short story is one I entered into a Flash Fiction contest hosted by my local Maryland Writer's Association chapter with a 500-word limit, any genre or topic.

Despite having this on my list of goals for months, I and my procrastination waited until the very last minute to write this ... I'm talking the morning of the deadline, and to my surprise, I was one of the finalists! It's a good lesson to always write and always put yourself out there, however minor because it's NEVER too late!

Take, for example, this collection of short stories. Will it be a blockbuster hit? Will I make money from it? Nope. But I'm having fun putting it together, it's making me write more, and hey! You never know when an opportunity will present itself.

Happy writing and reading! 

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