Homecoming (prompt: delivery)

Wordlessly, my daughter sat at the window, absently petting our calico cat that had curled up in her lap. Our street was getting dark, and in the twilight a few of the neighbor’s kids were playing, making lazy loops on their bikes up and down the block, shouting as they chased each other.

They circled around one lone kid stubbornly shooting hoops. He reached up to catch a miscalculated shot that had bounced off the backboard, caught it, dribbled a bit, bounced on his toes, and, with a look of intense concentration, launched another attempt. It swooshed right in, nothing but net, and he threw his arms up, whooping triumphantly.

Suddenly the bike kids sped off in the direction of a distant shout I assumed was their mother, calling out their goodbyes. The shooter waved and shot a few more layups, but with his audience gone, he seemed to lose interest and ambled up his porch steps, disappearing past the screen door. Our street was left empty and quiet, but still my daughter stared, nonplussed. She always looked so serious, and with those big, blinking blue eyes and blonde curls, the effect was discomfiting.

“Come here,” I blurted, holding out my arms and inviting her onto my lap. Her gaze flickered over to me and she begrudgingly shifted. The cat, disturbed, slunk onto the floor, and she climbed down the futon and toddled across to me. I mussed her curls, unable to resist.  “What’s up, cherub? Why so gloomy?”

Her brow furrowed. “What’s a cherub?”

I laughed. “It’s a cute little baby angel.”

“Oh,” she said.

“Just. Like. You!” I punctuated every word with a big kiss on her cheek, then blew a raspberry, which got her to giggle. As she melted to the floor, I scooped her up in my lap and hugged her tight. “You know, it’s almost your bedtime.”

“But daddy’s not home yet!” she protested.

“I know, I know. Ten more minutes, and if he’s not home then, I’ll have to tuck you in.”

“Okay.” This seemed to satisfy her, and she settled back against me. I placed my book, which had been nestled in the crack between the arm and the cushion, on the coffee table and just held her, cuddling close, immeasurably grateful to immerse myself in this ordinary little moment, and also unsure how I could love someone so little so ridiculously much.

I had almost dozed off when I heard the telltale jangling of keys and the doorknob rattling.

“Daddy, daddy!” she shouted, flying across the hardwood floor in her ruffled socks, though I’d warned her many times not to. She was all over him before he could even close the door, hugging his waist and bouncing up and down. It never failed to touch me, how she acted like she hadn’t seen him in months though he’d dropped her off at preschool just this morning. Time must feel like an eternity to kids.

He glanced over tiredly, but I could see the smile on his face was genuine as he turned his attentions to her, scooping her up under the armpits. “Whoa, whoa, whoa! You miss me or what?” he teased, and she cried yes into his shoulder, burying her face there, uncaring that his brown UPS uniform was probably smelly. “Aww, don’t start crying on me, now.” He kissed the top of her curly head, attempting to make his way over to me, though our daughter didn’t make it easy, clinging like a koala.

When he bent down and kissed me on the lips, I plunged my hand into the damp, golden-blonde hair at the nape of his neck, nudging him closer. “I missed you too,” I murmured, nuzzling him. When I pulled back, I saw his eyes had gained that lazy, languid look. Some men look hungry with desire, like they want to pounce on you, but not my husband. On the contrary, he always looks relaxed, compliant, as if he’d be easily take by the faint, sweet song of a siren wafting in on the breeze, and would enjoy going wayward to his bliss…

The moment broken by our daughter’s wiggling, he straightened up and let her slide down, where she immediately began rubbing her eyes with both fists.

“I should put her to bed,” I mused.

He chuckled. “I’m gonna go get cleaned up.”

“Meet you upstairs?”

“Deal.” He grinned.

When I climbed into our bed, I was naked, and I lay there in the dark, noting the shallowness of my own breath and listening to the sound of the shower running. I wanted badly to be helping him soap up, wrapping my arms around his slick body, but I forced myself to lie there. There had been plenty of nights I’d joined him, but tonight I would act like an adult and not an overzealous child, savoring the slow, steady anticipation that was both torturous and delicious. The tick of the clock is just as sweet and necessary as its eventual chiming.

He stepped out, his hair still dripping wet and the blue robe tied all slapdash, as if he’d hurried. I’d bought him that robe because I’d known he would look decadent in it–there was really no other word for it. The blue brought out his eyes and the plush fabric suggested luxuriousness, sensuality, encouraged touch. I loved him in it, longed to kiss my way down the V-shaped patch of chest it revealed. But then I also wanted to snake my hands up underneath the hem, which fell midway down those muscular, hairy thighs–thighs which I personally knew to be just as strong and firm as they looked, what with all the ground he covered while delivering.

I sat up in bed, intentionally letting the blanket fall away to my waist. He said nothing, but his gaze dropped, eyes running like rivulets over my body. I had always been self-conscious of my average figure, but I met his look shyly, enjoying his unabashed appreciation of my body, which always granted me a boldness that in a previous heartbeat I hadn’t known I possessed. I crawled toward him on hands and knees, smiling mischievously, then tugged him down gently by the hem. He didn’t resist. ~


 

Written for the prompt “delivery.”

 

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