Thursday, October 1, 2009

Family: Chapter Fourteen- Raincoat

I rummaged through the closet, looking for my raincoat. Several years ago, Marlboro ran a promotion where heavy smokers could earn merchandise by saving proof of purchase from cigarette packs. I used my points to buy a red Marlboro rain slicker. It’s pretty cool. When it rains, the jacket proudly announces to the world that I am a heavy smoker. Anyway, after several months of raping other peoples empty packs for points, I finally earned a sweet rain slicker. Obviously now my friends would think I am nine kinds of awesome! I wore it for a few days and then quickly forgot about my brief obsession with cigarette themed gear.
Years passed. I got married, switched jobs, had a kid. The usual stuff really, barely worth mentioning. I experienced all the typical day to day stresses that I am certain most men feel. A decade slipped past before I’d even noticed.
One Tuesday afternoon my wife and I had a fight. It seemed pretty serious at the time. Outside the rain was pouring down in sheets. I hated arguing, in fact I still do. I an effort to avoid conflict, I threatened to leave, planning to spend the night at the local Holiday Inn. I had done this before, it’s always been my preference to take the cowardly way out. My wife claimed I was avoiding conflict, but the truth is, I wanted to escape before I caused damage that I could not repair.
I rummaged through the closet looking for a jacket. The contents of the closet were unfamiliar to me as we had recently moved into our new house. I swear I could never find a goddamned thing around this house. I was positive she had rearranged my coats just to confound my escape. In a rage I seized upon the red Marlboro jacket, yanking it around my shoulders in a huff. With shoes untied, I barged out the door into the rain.
I stood on the porch, fumbling through my pockets for the car keys. My fingers dug through the jacket’s many zippered pouches and found something I did not expect. It was my daughter’s pacifier.
In her younger years she would not go anywhere without it. It was a rubber pacifier, attached by a long cloth cord to a clip shaped like Winnie the Pooh. We used it often, attaching it to her little blue coat so it would not be lost. Losing the nookie often drove her into an ear shattering tantrum. Everywhere she went, the binky followed, attached to her like a life line.
I stood on the porch, holding the pacifier in my right hand. I turned it over and over. Thunder crashed. I realized this thing must have been in my pocket for almost ten years. I had almost forgotten about it. It seemed so small in my hand …. almost looking as though it had shrunk. It felt warm and heavy. Of course that was impossible- it was made of rubber and white plastic.
I looked at the pacifier. It seemed precious, more valuable than ten miracles. I held it in the palm of my hand.

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