A variation on a theme
A Summers Day
Hank Summers walked to the foyer of his apartment building. He missed the old house, with its garden, but he knew he didn’t have the time or the inclination to take care for it. He could have afforded to hold on to the place, even with the promotion…but it was too big for a man alone. And he was mostly alone.
*Too caught up in your work to think of your daughters’ Hank…to bloody stupid to make a reservation or ask Jakira to do it…*
He sighed. He nodded his greeting to Jake, the concierge, and took off on his Saturday morning run.
*It took Joyce actually leaving me to get me back in shape…took her actually leaving me to realize that none of those airheads from the secretary pool actually date me for my body…Mr. Lovehandles.*
*I need to call Dawnie and apologize…Hell I need to call all three of them and apologize…* He ran faster, forcing his underused muscles into activity. He’d lost weight since Joyce had left him…she cooked like an angel…and he forgot to eat when she wasn’t there…and he didn’t feel like eating often enough. It was getting easier to run, but that was about it…he visited the gym in his condo every day now. But it wasn’t the same as coming home and chasing Dawn through the garden…
He came back to his building, surprised. He’d run six miles and he barely even remembered…his body was getting used to the exercise too…needed to up the distance or the speed…or both.
Jake was waiting with his mail and newspaper. “Morning again Mr. Summers.”
“Morning Jake…” They’d established early on that neither of them minded that nod first in the morning. Hank had also told Jake that he could read his newspaper until he got there. It saved the man some money and as long as he didn’t get it dirty Hank didn’t mind.
“I-I…I’ll be here if you want to talk…”
The man ducked into his cubicle, leaving Hank blinking. He shrugged and walked up the stairs, ignoring the elevator and juggling his mail to see what he had to deal with immediately and what could wait. He arrived at his door and opened it, walked to his shower dropping his clothes in the hamper as he went. * I used to drive Joyce insane with dumping it all on the ground…Why the hell couldn’t I learn to do this when we were still together…* He took a quick shower, dried off and put on a pair of comfortable old jeans and a t shirt. He walked barefoot over his sanded wooden floor and sat at the table, opening his mail with his thumb. Bills…more bills…letter from his divorce lawyer regarding the amount of alimony and if the amount could not be lowered…*I just got a promotion you…They’re my daughters! I want them to have a good life!* He made a mental note to change his divorce lawyer.
No letters that needed immediate attention. He opened the paper. He read the International and National sections first, then the State. That was what they always did, leaving Joyce to read the Arts section in peace. He smiled a little sadly as he picked it up.
*Dawn’s ballet…the one I should have taken her to…If I hadn’t had my head up my ass and forgotten about it because of the Nickelson case…*
He wasn’t; fond of the ballet but he knew Dawn loved it…and she would have loved this so much. He opened the paper and swallowed. There she was…his little Dawn…dancing…with Mikhail Baryshnikov. He’d taken her poster of him down herself, when they moved out of the house. She looked…oh God she looked so happy. Hank felt his tears coming.
*Joyce couldn’t have afforded this…not with the mortgages on the Gallery and the house…half of the alimony goes into the girls’ college funds…*
He smiled sadly, running a finger down the picture. He took a deep breath. He saw there was a referral to the Entertainment section and he picked that up. The first page held the usual scandals of Hollywood. Some might call that entertaining.
The second page…Joyce…looking more lovely than he’d seen her since their wedding…wearing a dress so perfect for her…and the blue gems at her throat must have brought out that perfect blue in her eyes last night…and there was Dawn, walking beside a man, a tall man in white tie, who looked perfectly at ease…he knew that walk, that was the way Dawn walked when she wanted to hold the hand of whoever was next to her but felt too grown up to do so…and there she was again, his little Dawn…kicking her feet in excitement as she sat talking to…Dorothy Chandler and Baryshnikov…
He sat back and let out a breath he had been holding in for far too long. He put his head in his hands and scrubbed his face, noticing to his surprise he had been crying.
Another man had put that smile on Dawn’s face, on Joyce’s face…He turned back to the picture of Dawn dancing…there in the shadows…a man and a woman, watching, almost invisible, she leaning into him…the only thing visible the light gleaming of the blue gems around her throat…He could imagine the proud smiles on both their faces as they’d have stood there.
Very quietly in the privacy of his apartment Hank Summers wept for what he had lost.