This is a tale of Halloween scares and gruesome gore, kind of, and it a true story. According to the calendar it was only four years ago, but in that time two little boys have grown from long legs and ready smiles to fill the passing space with so much fluff and memory that it feels more like a lifetime.
Time is funny like that. It drags its feet until you blink, and then it jumps forward by handfuls of years. Between the points runs life on a timeline, and it is full of snapshots, angles, and opposing views. Some we see so often that we take them for granted, forgetting that once we found them unique or new, and others we may never see at all, and so we fear they don’t exist. Some we wish they didn’t.
Such was the scene in the supermarket. I was on all fours in the middle of the aisle, and my senses were heightened. Time stood still but for the constant drip falling like whispers of raindrops. Slowly they would hit the linoleum, and slowly I would wipe the spill, even as it ricocheted back against itself, a tear turned inside out.
My world was a blur of gum stuck under shelving and canned goods covered in dust. I was floating between the broom line and the line of sight, where things were, apparently, forgotten. The only movement was a beacon of clarity, and it was my son, running, fleeing the scene.
“Get another roll of paper towels,” I told him for the second time. My voice was stoic. My body was shaking.
The paper towels were at the end of the aisle. They were printed in shades of Halloween and one roll had already been placed in our cart. It was a treat, if paper towels can be labeled as such. The boys love all things Halloween and are just as happy with a roll of paper towels that cost a dollar as they are with a door decoration that cost twenty. They thank me when I nod, granting them the permission to embrace the season. It is not a dollar wasted.
So it was that the roll of paper towels that had just moments ago brought great joy was now open and wadded into a large ball in my fist. So it was that my oldest boy returned with another roll, handed it to me and then proceeded to wander the walls of candy and candles shaped like bats, cats, and spiderwebs. He was at ease. He was already gone.
I glanced up towards my younger son that was perched above me in the shopping cart. He too was enthralled with the the festival of the autumn aisle. He never looked down as he studied the endless bounty, his mouth agape. He just sat there, strapped to a metal carriage with a plastic seat, and his eyes lit up, even as he continued to pee on me.
I hadn’t known what it was at first. It was just a drop of moisture upon my flip-flopped foot. I believe that I actually looked up toward the ceiling to find the source before I thought to bend over my son and search the contents of the cart. But then it was a constant stream escaping the leg of his shorts, catching every crosshatch of metal basket on the way down, coating new dew upon the large pumpkin that rode beneath him, and forming a lonely warm puddle in which I became an island. I never felt more deserted.
I looked at my 2-year-old son. I looked in his eyes, deep into his soul, and the fear I found was my own. The shame reflected was mine. His face was empty, the blank image beneath a mask of pressure that had finally been cast aside. His was a release long overdue, and neither time nor space had consequence. There was only relief against the pleas I put upon him, and there were endless rows of candy as far as he could see.
Read more from Whit Honea at his site Honea Express and the popular group blog DadCentric. You can follow Whit on the Twitter or Pinterest (his opinions are his own and do not reflect those of Babble or most rational people).
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