The clock hand slowed down to a halt, and my breath froze as the hand seemed to pause for what seemed like just a few ticks longer than it truly should have on the 12 hour. I tried to gulp down the knot in my throat that had been sitting there for months, nope, still there, and as I stood from the chair which I was sitting in. Time began to slowly come out of its frozen meltdown state that it was previously halted in. I no longer was surrounded by muffled noise and cloudy vision but was welcomed by the familiar room that I was just in before I entered this familiar trance.
As I wandered through the corridors of the 57 floor office building to get to the nearest elevators, I was greeted by coworkers. Some heading to the utility room to make copies, some heading to the break room, you know, ‘coffee’, and some just dicking around. Working some 10 odd hours in offices and in cubicles can get to some people so, sometimes, they wander. “Todd! Hold the door!” This guy was yelling it at the top of his lungs to me as he ran from about 20 feet down the hall. I motioned with my hands as if I was pushing the – OPEN DOOR – button on the side of the door multiple times, but I actually hit the – CLOSE DOOR – multiple times. What? I like my privacy, end of story. Anyways, the door shut and he, Jason, never made it in. He’s one of the associates. If anything, taking the stairs and reflecting on his personal decisions about his life wouldn’t hurt the guy. He’s always rushing off and jumping to get things started. Whats a few extra steps going to do to his hold up his day today? I mean he just ran down the hall.
Anyways, I had to get out of my office. Truth be told, I’ve been going through some things. When you’re sitting there in a desk, and you’re running these reports or you’re talking to your clients and they get to the point in the conversation where it becomes ‘now lets get to know you and your life..’ That. That right there. You see, people are very analytical these days. They want to know what and who and how and when and why it happened and where it happened. So me, being a professional, I’ll put it to you this way. You’re not able to give your clientele real personal business about your life because it makes you look like you can’t keep your shit together, and dealing with people and their shit, you want to let them know, that you can undoubtedly keep your shit together or they won’t find you believable when you handle their business. Makes sense if a guy who brags about parties and gambling tells you he can make you money by investing. He can’t. So, about my office mental thing. I had this relationship, and I lost her. See, she died. I know the correct term would be passed away, but look I’ve already been cursing, and look, she’s just dead. It’s frank, it’s honest, it’s just what it is. She’s gone. We hadn’t spoken to each other in years. I guess you could say that we technically had to move on. We had to reconcile and get past our issues regardless of our feelings. I knew she missed me, hell I even missed her, years went by and it’s just how time was between us. We accepted that it was how we were going to love each other, but, then, the news came that she died and when she passed, a part of me left with her.
We hadn’t spoke and it’s partially my fault for not reaching back to her. She often tried to speak to me and I just wouldn’t. We had a lot of problems and it was me who was holding back. I was insecure, I’ll admit that now. I couldn’t lose anything except for her and she’s gone now so what else is there? She had this way of making me feel so understood, …so priceless, and when we were separated, I did everything to keep the distance, so much distance that when I received the phone call of her passing, all I wanted to do was go back and get all that distance back.
Now I have these flashbacks of her at work,
I have these moments where she flashes before my eyes whilst I stare at my computer screen,
I see her vividly like never before when I dream at night and when I touch her body, it’s as if she’s truly right there, walking beside me, sleeping beside me,
holding my hand and grasping the back of my neck just as she used to when she was in my life all those years ago,
I see her smile in photos and her laugh radiates through my screen, The sweet smell of her soft skin and the glow of her soft brown tones throughout her hair..
My phone began to vibrate in my pocket as I was thinking of her while I was standing on top of the building, and to my surprise, it was from her Mother. A mix of Caller ID and her Mother never changing her phone number through the years have helped me be prepared for anything that could be thrown my way. We were never on bad terms, Gracie’s family was always kind and welcoming of me. They also treated me respectfully, I liked them. Loved them…. that’s her name. Gracie..
I quickly answered it.
“Hello? Kathryn? This is Todd, are you there?” I really sounded like an anxious dumbass.
“Todd, Hello. Yes It’s so good to hear your voice after all these months. I hope I’m not of any bother to you-”
“-Kathryn, please of course not, I am always happy to speak to you at any time, any hour-” Like a dumbass, I interrupted her, I was so anxious, excited in the least to hear from her, that I couldn’t contain my energy and I cut her off.
“I apologize for interrupting you, it’s very nice to hear from you, I appreciate the phone call. How are you? How is Maine?”
“Well, Todd thank you, you have always been so mannerly in your ways. I knew my phone call would cause a bit of excitement as we haven’t spoken in over 4 months. Please don’t worry about your reactions. Maine is beautiful, Paloma is enjoying it here, but I know she misses home. Chicago is where she had all her friends and I know she misses tea time with the little girls and… well Todd thats what I called to speak to you about.”
“You called to speak to me about tea time or Chicago?”
“No, Todd, before Gracie had passed she wanted to make sure Paloma made sure she lived a very fulfilling life. As you may or may not know, Gracie birthed Paloma with just the medical staff in the room. Paloma’s Father was not present. I’m unsure to this day if he knows that Paloma is even here and of his blood, because all of the letters the Attorneys had sent to him went unnoticed and or unanswered….. ” this is just about where my heart began to sink down into my stomach because I had moved right after Gracie and I broke contact with each other. 4 years ago. “…..Todd.. the only person that Gracie was trying to reach out to for court ordered paternity testing for the sake of Paloma so that she could move forward in the process for her Daughter, was you.”
It was at that very moment, that I lost my breath. Standing on the top of the building in the center of the Chicago Business District, all I could hear was noise, cars, and the sound of Gracie breathing when she would lay comfortably on my chest at bedtime.