Monday, March 17, 2014

Stomp your feet

Today’s writing prompt is to write a scene about opening a present:

Bill came in to the garage, stomping the dust and dirt off his feet as he always did; then entered the house through the mud room, pausing to turn the stereo on and press the multi button which would project the music through all the rooms in the house. Alan Jackson was singing “country boy” and Bill found himself doing a bit of a jig as he passed through the kitchen and into the living room. When he didn’t find Peggy there, he continued on to the back of the house, where he found her brushing her hair and primping in front of the mirror.

“Casey’s back,” Bill told her.

“Ok, I’m almost done. Are you going to change your clothes, too?”

“I will, but I want to see Kimberly first,” he replied, feeling silly about feeling excited about seeing his daughter.

It had been almost two years since his youngest daughter had decided to live with her mom full time, and he missed her more than he knew how to express. She’d only been to the house a few handful of times since then and her absence had left an ache in his heart that rarely went away. The only thing that came close to healing the ache was the presence of his eldest daughter, Casey, who had decided to live full time with her dad when Kimberly had moved out. He was so proud of Casey, and so thankful for her presence in the evenings after work when he would otherwise be alone. She came home from work on weeknights and shared the antics of her day with him, obviously enjoying her dad’s company and trying to fill the hole that Kimberly had left behind.

But Kimberly was here now, and while he was thrilled to be seeing her, he couldn’t help think about the bittersweet irony of it all.

The party they were having was to celebrate Casey’s new job and new life; she was moving to San Francisco to live with her boyfriend next week. Casey was all grown up and leaving home and Bill tried not to think of the ache her leaving was going to do to his heart.

He turned to leave the bedroom, but Peggy caught up with him before he reached the door, putting an arm around his waist and turning him back to her for a hug and a kiss. “Happy Birthday,” she said, smiling at him, even though his birthday wasn’t until Monday. She tried hard to make him know this party was to celebrate him as much as it was to celebrate his daughter and he appreciated the effort. He hugged her back and gave her bottom a squeeze, then headed off down the hallway to see his daughters.

“Happy Birthday, Dad,” Kimberly greeted him with a bright, tentative smile, and he tried not to rush forward too quickly or hug her too tightly; though he only let her go when she squirmed at bit and pat patted his back.

“I brought a present for you,” she said, holding out a large gift bag with lots of colored tissue paper, which he took from her just as Casey and Peggy also joined them in the kitchen.

“Hmm, you smell nice,” Peggy said to Kimberly as she gave the slim girl a tight hug, then nodded towards the bag Bill was holding, and Bill knew that Peggy was trying to make light of the fact that she too was just as thrilled to have Kimberly here as Bill was. “What’ve you got there?”

“Kimberly brought me a present,” Bill beamed, ruffling through the tissue paper and pulling out a large tissue wrapped object. He unwrapped it slowly, trying to savor the fact that his youngest daughter was in his kitchen again, and that she had remembered his birthday, wondering what token she would have bought for the occasion. It was a wooden sign, and as he unwrapped it and turned it over to see what it said, his heart constricted in his chest and his throat tightened with emotion as he read:

“COWBOYS, scrape your feet before entering”

“Oh, that’s perfect!” Peggy and Casey exclaimed together as Bill registered the words and the sentiment.

“I know just where this goes.” Bill hugged his daughter again, and all his girls followed him out to the garage,where he fumbled around looking for a nail and a hammer, giving himself time to compose himself before turning back and hanging the sign next to the garage entrance where just a short while before he had stomped the dust and the dirt off his feet.

As they stood back and admired the sign, Kimberly said, with an impish grin, “I wanted it to say ‘stomp’ your feet,” and then she shrugged and grinned, “cause that’s what you taught us to do when we got home.”

And together, they stomped their feet and turned and went into the house.