Dark Doorways #13

by kdillmanjones

dark doorwayThe plane couldn’t have been quieter. Swanson and I flew back to Chicago in silence, each stewardess mistaking us for strangers. Even the babe in seat 27B remained inaudible until I could trace the outline of the Des Plaines River from my window seat.

It was a strange lack of noise, the silence of that flight, full of meditative passengers. Something was about to happen, and I could see it in that not-yet-happening anxiety, that holding your breath as you watch your mom’s favorite bowl fall to the ground in its doom.

Swanson paid for our cab back to Evanston, dropping me at my apartment dutifully. Hesitant fingers sat on the cabbie’s back door, my jaw dropping open to say something. I looked over to Swanson, laughing at his nod even then, even after spending a research trip together in Mexico. He couldn’t manage a simple Goodbye or See you Monday.

“I–”

The words just weren’t there. A thought had already formed somewhere; my speech just couldn’t quite pin it down yet. More silence. My phone cut me off as I grasped for words, ringing while I grabbed the black duffle bag.

“Bye, Swanson. I’ll email you my transcriptions as soon as I get something substantial finished.”

Nod.

It was commonplace, the way I– or anyone in my generation– could close a car door, schlep a bag up to a second floor apartment, and somehow get settled inside, all while answering a smart phone. Mom would have ironed while timing her roast and answering the mustard rotary phone. Mom would have shook her head at my graduate studies. “A girl your age should be married.”

The thing about answering a phone while stepping over Grace’s garbage was that I had to ask for everything to be repeated.

“Donnelly?”

“Donnell. Heinrich and Donnell.”

“Oh, Mom’s lawyer. I’m sorry. I just got home from the airport. So everything is okay with Mom’s finances?”

“Of course. I’m calling regarding a special request.”

“Oh?”

“Your mother, Katherine H. Faro, left a very unique stipulation in her will.”

“Didn’t we go over her will already?”

“This is Sarah R. Faro?”

“Yes.”

“Please verify your date of birth.”

It was always the birthday that messed me up. It felt like a trick question, like they only asked to watch me squirm. They were waiting on the other end for me to mess up my own birthday.

“Uh, July el– fifteenth. July fifteenth, 1989.” Just when I was about to have them fire off their next question, I pictured Receding Hair Line Parker, staring out of Mom’s windows and mocking me. He was the type that never got his date of birth wrong. “Is this about Mom’s house?”

“No, Ms. Faro. Your mother had some information to share with you.”

“Information? But it’s been a year and half. Shouldn’t I have received this already?”

“She wanted to wait until you passed your prelims. We have verified that you have passed and are ready to disclose the document.”

“It’s a document?” My head was spinning. Who was I talking to anyway? Was this Heinrich or Donnell?

“Yes, Ma’am. You mother wanted you to know who your father is. Can you stop by our office today?”

“My– Today?” It was difficult to tell if I stood in the middle of the apartment, gaping, or if I melted into the floor boards. The gelatinous legs were the same either way. “You have a document?”

“Yes Ma’am. We do not disclose sperm donors over the phone. Once the document is in your possession, you’re free to do with it as you please.”

“Sperm donor?” We were back to repeating everything.

“Yes.”

So all of Mom’s If you don’t like it, you can take up your complaints with the Sperm Donor remarks were in reference to an actual sperm donor?

The walls of my apartment were collapsing in on me, crushing the shock out of me, reminding me to breath. Why now? Why only after I passed my prelims?

Oh Mom. My head nodded. I was beginning to take on Swanson’s defense mechanism. Yes, I too would nod rather than deal with emotion. The student becomes the faculty.

“Today should be fine. I’ll be there by two.”

Nod.

* to be continued…