A Time Passage story, by Rich Paschall
It was a gloomy summer evening. The rain was falling steadily. The street lights were coming on and the soft glow fell through the front room window. Riley did not notice the street lights. He did not see anything. He sat silently staring at the front door. He was waiting for the sound of a key in the door lock.
Jack arrived two hours later than usual. It was not like Jack to forget to call when he would be late. This was not a typical night, however. There was a bit of celebrating to be done before he could return home with the news. Jack paused in the doorway when he saw Riley with an expressionless stare, sitting in the dark.
“It looks like you already know the news,” Jack said with a tinge of “I’m sorry” in his voice.
“Some of your friends posted it online hours ago,” Riley advised without emotion. The expressionless gaze was somewhat unnerving to Jack. He searched for the right words.
“I wanted to be the one to tell you. I did not realize you would find out like that. A number of people rushed me out of work early to get a drink and I lost track of time.”
Riley just nodded.
Jack had worked his way up in business. He went from the warehouse to the office and then to the executive suite. He picked up his business degree along the way and had finally made it to the top. There was just one problem. Riley and Jack lived in a midwest city.
“The job will be in Seattle. We will have to sell this place and find a new home. It will be great, you’ll see,” Jack exclaimed.
“I can’t move to Seattle.”
Riley and Jack had been together for twelve years. They spent the last five living in Riley’s mom’s house. Riley worked from home and took care of his mother.
“We can put your mother in a nice assisted living facility. We can afford to do it.”
Riley just shook his head.
“We can take her with us. We will be able to afford a place with enough room for all of us to be comfortable.”
Again Riley shook his head. “I promised to keep her in her own home as long as possible.”
“But she does not even know where she is half of the time,” Jack exclaimed.
“And the other half she does. If I move her to another place while she is still capable of living here, then I break my promise.”
Riley sat quietly. He could just about see the emotions coursing through Jack’s veins and they were about to bubble over.
“It’s not fair, Riley. I have worked my whole life to get to this point. This is the top of the ladder. I can not go back now. You are almost at retirement, I have to work another 15 years, maybe longer if all goes well. A chance like this may never come again.”
Riley would retire in less than a year. Jack was younger and his executive dream had just come true.
“You have to take it, Jack. You have to go. I will stay here with mom as long as needed.”
Jack sat down in a chair opposite Riley. They stared silently at one another for a long time. Neither knew what to say, what emotions to express. They just stared.
The next day Jack advised that the corporation would help him find a place and would cover all of his moving expenses. Everything was set in motion.
“When will you be leaving?” Riley asked.
“Three weeks. I need to be there before the end of the month.”
After two weeks a moving van came for the items Jack was going to send ahead. All that was left would fit into a suitcase and carry-on bag.
Riley and Jack barely spoke to one another for the last three weeks. Neither one was angry. They just did not know what to say. Riley thought Jack would be there to help him as he got older. Jack thought Riley would always be by his side to give encouragement. A step forward for Jack meant a step backward for both.
When the day finally arrived, Jack put his luggage by the door and contacted one of the popular rideshare companies. Riley sat silently in the living room as Jack watched the app for a time.
“One minute and the driver will be here,” Jack said. Riley got up to give Jack a hug. Then he sat back down.
“Aren’t you coming out to the car with me?” Riley asked.
“Why?” Jack asked with a bit of a smile. “Did you really want to see me cry?”
“He’s here. I have to go. I will call you when I get there,” Jack promised. Riley nodded as Jack closed the door behind him.
When the door was shut, Riley got up and hurried to the window. He kept a step back so Jack would not see him. As the car drove off, Riley had tears rolling down his face.
Jack did not call when he got there. In fact, he never called. A door opened, he walked through, and just like he did at Riley’s mom’s house, he closed the door behind himself.