03 August 2008

The Silence

Mom has gone to church. She does that every Sunday morning. I know Dad is awake because I hear him coughing. It's that nagging, hacking kind of cough one usually hears from smokers. But Dad has never smoked.

The almost vacuous, though not deafening, quiet of this house used to be familiar to me--back when I used to come here more often. Now it is disquieting as the hissing of sprinklers on a New Jersey lawn once was to me, even before Joni Mitchell mentioned it in one of her songs.

I woke up just as the garage door opened and Mom backed the car out of it. Dad hadn't started coughing yet. I sauntered into the kitchen and over to the glass door that seperates it from the patio. I glanced at the canal that seperates Mom and Dad's lawn from someone else's. Like most canals I've seen in this country, it's barely more than a ditch and I have a hard time seeing how anything could've been navigated up or down it. Maybe it was wider or deeper at one time.

An alligator has lived there. Mom and Dad have told me about him. (They always refer to it as male. I wouldn't want to get close enough to know!). However, I have never seen him. Not that I don't believe Mom or Dad. I just want to see him, just once. Why, I don't know. I guess I could really say I've been to Florida if I've seen him.

Not that I've ever had any great desire to come to Florida. Before I left, when I told people I was going to Florida, they all had images of Miami or Tampa Bay or Key West, just as when I told people I was going to France, they had visions of the Eiffel Tower. I did indeed go to la Tour Eiffel, and have, in fact, spent more time in Paris than I have in any city besides New York. But I also pedalled through the countryside, all over that nation. On the other hand, what I've seen of Florida consists of this town (Palm Coast) and its environs, Miami Beach (where Eva's mother and siblings lived) and Jacksonville (when Mike Spinnato, the family friend who molested me, was living there). And I've been to St. Augustine and Epcot Center.

I just heard the garage door opening again. That means Mom has come back from church. It also means we'll have breakfast soon. I don't hear Dad coughing. Both of them certainly are aging. Of course one expects that. But even the last time I saw them, three years ago, I could say, perhaps, that they were in late middle age. Now I can no more think that than I can say I'm young, even though I feel rather youthful and people tell me I look younger than I am.

But this silence: There is no other like it. It seems that Mom and Dad took it with them when they moved from New Jersey to Florida: I recall this silence, like a linen haze, from the Sunday mornings of the weekends I spent every couple of months or so at their house in Middletown, where we moved when I was about twelve. The aroma of pancakes and sausages or bacon would waft through that curtain; sometimes, it would wake me, for I used to sleep later on those Sunday mornings than I would at home.

Today I woke up just before 7:00, mainly because of the cup of tea I had before going to bed. That is later than I usually get up on weekdays, but definitely earlier than I wake up when I have nowhere in particular to go.

Dad is coughing again. I hear the bedroom door opening: Is Dad getting up or is Mom going in?

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