Waiting

He thought, They’re waiting for me right now.

In days gone by he used to believe this, but it was never really true.  Sitting by the window, he’d wait for them.  Day after day.  Every once in a while he’d think, Are they waiting for me?

At night he wouldn’t watch.  It was too dark to tell.  He needed sleep. They never came out when the sun was down.  He was pretty sure.

In the light of day, he’d sit.  Day after day now.  Waiting.  Anxious.  Every once in a while he’d stand up, lean his forehead against the clear pane, his nose breathing the cold glass steamy.  Look out hard.  Distorted.  See nothing.  Wonder if they were watching him.

Until today.  Just now.  He was dead sure he’d actually caught a glimpse.  His eyes watered for straining to catch sight of them again.  To confirm.

And then another flash.  His peripheral vision, his eye doctor said, was remarkably good for someone his age.

They were right there.  Maybe.  Behind the mango tree.  He’d grown to hate mangos.  They sat rotting every season.  He raked up the desiccated seeds after the stinking fruit had contributed everything else to the earth.

He put on his going-out clothes he never wore, his running shoes in which he no longer ran.  Turning the doorknob carefully so as not to let them hear he was coming, so as not to scare them away, he took a deep, calming breath.

But then.  Wait, he thought.  Wait a second.  What am I doing here?  I was waiting for them?  Or they were waiting for me?

He stood still, his hand resting on the knob.  Listened.  Wondering.  Confused.

Letting go the knob, he walked back to the window.  Staring out at the mango tree, he could feel the strain.  The burial ground.  He closed his eyes.  Tired.  Bewildered.

His eyes flew open, he thinking them everywhere.  Discovered, they must have scattered.  So quickly he didn’t see them go.

There was nothing.  He waited.  His breathing shallow.  He didn’t know how long it had been.  They must be gone.

He took off his running shoes, then his going out clothes.  He sat back down and watched.  Anxious, not knowing now who was waiting for whom.

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