I woke to a flickering candle on the desk in my bedroom. Amy sat on the edge of my bed, wearing the maroon button-down blouse I had always liked. She raised her finger to her lips as I started to speak.
“Don’t,” she said, “He’s asleep on your sofa.”
“How did you get in,” I asked. “How long have you been here?”
She raised her finger to her lips again, and slid toward me. She rested her head on my chest. “Don’t wake him up. He’s very tired. Remember how we used to cuddle like this?”
I sighed and gave in, and put my right arm around her. “I loved it when we cuddled,” I said.
She raised her head. “It’s time you gave him up. You don’t have money to pay his child support. You don’t have the money to come out and see him. It’s in his best interests that you sign your rights away.”
“I can’t give him up,” I muttered. “It’s not right. I won’t.”
My arm fall away as she sat up and began unbuttoning her blouse. “Remember these?” she whispered. She again placed her head on my chest and took my hand, and again I put my arm around her.
“You were right about yourself,” she said after what seemed like a long time. “You really are worthless. The greatest gift you could give him, could give all of us, would be to finally do it. Then you’d take care of him with the Social Security allowance. I wouldn’t struggle so much if I was getting that money every month. And your sister wouldn’t have to be sending you money every three months or so.” She sat up again and looked directly at me. “You know this would be a better world without you.”
I wanted to get up and run into the other room, to look at my son asleep on the sofa, but I couldn’t sit up. Amy pulled off her blouse. “I’ll make it easy for you. You’ll have a pleasant memory to take with you when you walk over to the train crossing. That’s the easy way, isn’t it? Even if it makes a mess, you won’t care; you’ve always made a mess of things.” She looked down at her breasts and massaged them for a moment, then raised her head and smiled.
“Have one more night of pleasure first, and it won’t cost you any money this time.” I sucked in a surprised breath, and she gave me a mocking smile. “You see, I know about Leslie. And the worst part is that you’re not paying his child support.”
I wondered how she knew about Leslie. I remembered once when we had finished in this very bedroom, Leslie had said, “Now, call your little boy.” Now, focusing on the flickering candle, I said , “I’ve sent you what money I could.”
She stood up, turned her bare back to me, and said coldly, “You did help pay for our trip to Disneyland.” The candle went out.
* * *
I awoke, startled, and looked toward the window to see the first light of day streaming in. I struggled out of bed, and looked on the floor. My favorite maroon blouse wasn’t there. I hurried into the next room. My son’s two pictures were still on the bookcase where they had been when I had gone to bed, and the sofa was empty except for my crossword puzzle book.
Suddenly, I heard the train whistle, warning the populace that the train was approaching the edge of town.
Copyright © 2014 by Paul Vanni
All rights reserved