On the Way Home

The rain beat down elsewhere too. It was still splashing down in fat drops as a young man was returning home. Unlike others he felt no calm or joy in it. Instead he growled at it, at the fat drops that splashed under his collar, trickling down his spine. He had no umbrella and it was clear he was unprepared. Not the right clothes for the weather. Stupid rain was getting his briefcase wet, maybe even soaking his work.

He did not see the other people also rushing home from work. The young woman who held the door for him, shaking out her own umbrella, offered a shy smile but he did not see it. Instead he hunched his shoulders and wiped his feet before stomping to his apartment. The woman let out a sigh, allowing the door to close as she slipped inside. He never did seem to notice her, probably would not recognize her. She, however, would recognize him.

Up the stairs and into his apartment, not seeing the father laughing at his damp children as he ushered them into their apartment down the hall. Adam never noticed any of them. He was always far too busy.

Once inside, he hung up his coat and tried to brush some of the water off it. His shoes were set on the mat beside the door to dry. Into the bathroom he went, grabbing a towel to dry his hair, dropping his shirt on the floor. It was the first careless thing he had done intentionally and it felt wonderful.

Everything was so ordered in his life. In the moments he stopped it felt stifling, so he tried not to stop.

The light on his phone was blinking, letting him know there were new calls. Again, he wondered why he still had the landline. He was rarely home and the only people who called that number were his parents. That, in and of itself, made it worthwhile.  Almost, he didn't bother checking the phone. He dealt best with his family when he saw them on Sundays. They could share a meal, then ask about him, tell him they worried about him. Ask when he was going to get married.

Married! The thought brought a laugh, although it was a sharp thing. Once, long ago, he'd thought about getting married. It felt like forever since then. Since her.

Might as well get it over with. He picked up the phone and punched a few buttons, ready to listen to his parents ramble on about whatever details were important to them. He heard the electronic voice and entered his passcode. Then another button to listen to new messages.

He heard rain. That was the first thing he noticed. Then a voice that made him drop the phone.

"Hi, Adam, It's me...I'm on my way home...kay bye."

He fumbled for the phone, glad no one could see him. His hand shook as he grabbed for the phone. He missed the first time, sending it skittering across the floor. Stumbling, he went after it, finally managing to grab it. Picking it up, he punched a button to replay the message. Maybe there was more.

There wasn't. That was all.

Kat was coming home.

His hand was shaking. He set the phone down.

Kat, I miss you. How dare you come back? After you left me. You wouldn't bend. Then again, neither would I. I should have bent. I should have gone with you. Would it have been worse than what I have now?

She was coming home. She'd called him. Maybe she'd forgiven him.

He wasn't certain he could forgive her though. For leaving. For tearing him apart with truth. It hadn't been fair of him to want to fit her into the life he thought he should have. Not that it had been any more fair that she demand he try to fit into the life she was going after.

But she was coming back.

Across the alley, a teenage girl looked out her window, daydreaming about the boy she had a crush on, thinking about the homework she should be doing. She noticed the man in the apartment across from hers and frowned. He was old, but not bad looking. Usually the shades were drawn, or curtains or whatever. Usually she couldn't see him. Tonight he looked upset. She tilted her head, then shrugged. She didn't know him, didn't really care. He was old, after all. The boy in her class was much more interesting. Even her math homework was more immediate.

The End

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