San Diego State University’s Independent Student Newspaper Since 1913

The Daily Aztec

San Diego State University’s Independent Student Newspaper Since 1913

The Daily Aztec

San Diego State University’s Independent Student Newspaper Since 1913

The Daily Aztec

Leaning in the doorway

“Your father fell in the doorway yesterday. His tackle box spilled everywhere. When I got all the hooks out of his skin he told me he built this cabin by himself, after the war. Did you know that? Anyway, it happened after he docked the boat. He ran from the mosquitoes. You were miles away at that point. He slipped on a porch step. He landed on his wrist. Just a bruise, though. Can you believe that? Eighty-seven years old and he only bruises a wrist.”

“Don’t talk like that,” she said through the phone. “You know I lost my mother that way.”

“A wrist injury?”

“No. She slipped off the roof.”

“Right. You told me that once.”

“I remember it because our dog coughed up blood that morning. Not that I wouldn’t remember the day of my mother’s death, but still, the blood makes it easier to remember.”

“What was she doing on the roof again?”

“Your guess is as good as mine. Maybe to get a better view of things.”

“That’s an important detail to forget — why she took the time to unfold a ladder and climb two stories to the roof.”

“I was young. I was a child. It’s difficult to remember the details.”

“Maybe she was checking for leaks. Was she … all there?”

She stayed silent on the other side.

He let it be. He asked, “Whatever happened to that dog?”

“Can you believe it? Ran away a few weeks later. The gate was open, and I came home from school one day and he was gone.”

“Dogs do that. That’s what they do. They wait until you leave for school, then they run away forever.”

“I thought I saw him once, after he turned stray. You know how that is, when dogs turn stray, their hair gets all long and tangled and they don’t respond to commands or anything. But here’s the thing — this dog, this stray, looked exactly like my dog did, same markings and everything, even though this was decades after my mother’s death. I mean, years and years longer than that dog should’ve lived. Or any dog should live.”

“Freedom does that. It forces you to live longer.”

“I’m being serious here. I’m trying to tell you something important.”

“I know. I’m listening.”

“He should’ve died from the stomach infection. He should’ve died out in the open. But he didn’t. Know why? Because he couldn’t. He probably wanted to die, but he couldn’t. That’s how a wish works. If you want it bad enough, it won’t ever come.”

“Boy, if that ain’t the truth. Hey, listen, your father’s here. Do you want to talk to him? Should I give him the phone? ”

“No, don’t do that. Just tell him I’ll be home soon.”

“Good. OK. But honey?”

“What is it?”

“He’s in the doorway. His hand is wrapped up. He’s waiting for you.”

“I know. I can see him now. I can see him.”

“What’s he look like from there?”

“He looks like he always has, like my father. And there’s a strong wind. It’s blowing through the house. His book pages are fluttering, and through the phone it sounds like prayer. I can’t really explain it. But he’s leaning into it. He’s leaning into the wind. He’s leaning into the open doorway.”

“You can see him,” he said.

“Yes. I can see him. He’s leaning into it all. He’s in the doorway. He’s leaning into the fall.”

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San Diego State University’s Independent Student Newspaper Since 1913
Leaning in the doorway