Neither Kim nor I slept much last night.
Three nights ago, about twenty minutes after midnight, the doorbell rang.
When the doorbell rings that late at night it is chilling. No one would be coming to visit that late at night just to chat. Something horrible must have happened.
I’m transported back to a late night in our old house when the doorbell rang this late and it was Andy and Andy at my door to tell me that Mel had died. Suddenly. He’d died while doctors looked on unable to do anything.
But tonight there’s no one at my door. It’s a bit creepy. I know I heard the bell ring. It’s still echoing a bit and the dog is pacing back and forth. I turn off some lights to better see outside and there’s no one there. Then I notice some movement across the street. It’s two boys running. I open the door to make sure they’re ok – to make sure they aren’t running from house to house in distress looking for help.
They’re pulling a prank. They run up to the house across the street and ring the bell and run away. They’re too far to identify. All I can see is that one boy is wearing a green shirt with white writing. The other boy is hiding in the shadows. It doesn’t look as if they are done for the night. I call the police and go to bed.
Two nights ago our phone rang at one thirty in the morning.
Time contracts and expands at different times during the day. Kim and I had enough time between the first and third rings to wake up, look at each other, and imagine all sorts of horrible news that would be conveyed by this call.
It was a wrong number.
And so last night I had a hard time falling asleep. It could have been that I knew when I woke up it would be six months since Elena died. It could have been the two nights before. I tossed and couldn’t get settled. I listened to “On the Media” on my shuffle and fell asleep somewhere around one thirty. At two I woke up and took the headphones out of my ears.
I lay there unable to get back to sleep. This is unusual. Ordinarily, I just turn over and am out again. Ten minutes later I heard Maggie talking. It was her voice but what she said was indecipherable. Kim awoke immediately. It’s a sixth sense that mothers have for their children. She didn’t know why she had woken up but she listened carefully and then rolled over and go to bed.
But at three in the morning it is now the twenty-second. It’s six month since Elena died. I need to check on Maggie and know that she’s o.k.. I get up and look in her room. Her bed is piled so high with stuffed animals that I can’t be sure that that lump in the middle that is Maggie is breathing normally.
I walk closer to her bed and see that she’s fine. She’s more than fine. She’s perfect. I reach over her and turn off her clock radio. The radio we gave Elena a year ago. The one item from Elena’s room that Maggie asked for. Maggie stirs and looks up at me. She sees me turn off her radio and smiles and turns over and falls immediately back to sleep.
I head back to bed but not to sleep. It’s been six months.