That was one of the shorter work days on record. AJ called an early end to it and beat feet home. On the way he called more than once to be sure I was still there, and would wait to talk to him.

The second or third time he called, we talked for quite a while. I told him I thought we should separate for a few days, and get things figured out before we decided anything. He really didn't like that idea, and unhappily asked how long I was talking about.

Airily I replied, "Oh, I'll just talk to you after I get back from St. Louis." I gave no hint that a teeny part of me hoped that somehow he would still go - we had been planning the trip since even before the A.

"Nooooooooooo!" he wailed. "You mean you don't even want me to go to St. Louis with you anymore?"

"I'm not sure." I shrugged almost audibly. "We can talk about it when you get home."

I started to let myself go once, but he asked me to please keep talking to him. I'm sure he was still afraid I would hang up and then go sneaking off so he would come home to an empty house again. He was so scared of that empty house.

Just before he lost signal, he asked me to please meet him at the gate.

I went and opened it for him, and stood there listening for the sound of his car.

A smooth sea never made a skilled mariner.
~ English proverb

Neak's Story