Tom walked by his son's bedroom in the dark hallway and stubbed his little toe on a football helmet. He gritted his teeth to keep from screaming out in pain. When he looked down, he saw a thin ribbon of light coming from under the door. He rubbed his sore toe, and then knocked lightly.
He heard a click and the light under the door disappeared.
Tom tried the door and found it unlocked. He turned the knob, then let it go. He stared at it for while. Then he grabbed it again, and opened the door.
"Billy? he whispered.
"It's two in the morning."
"I'm going to sleep now, Dad."
"Are you okay?"
Billy didn't sound right. Tom switched on the ceiling light.
Billy turned away, but not before Tom saw the tears on his cheeks. Tom studied his son's muscular back and shoulders, noticing how football practice and weight training were shaping his son into a man. The tears jarred him into remembering the man's body was still connected to a sixteen year old's feelings.
"Nothing. Leave me alone. Please." Billy put his arm over his eyes.
"Dad, please," Billy insisted.
Tom stood there for a long time, silent. Then he shrugged, turned off the light, and left the room. He resumed his journey to the kitchen. He fixed a sandwich and ate without tasting it. The milk was cold, that's all he remembered. When he was done, he turned out the light.
Tom walked by Billy's room. The light was on again. He leaned his ear to the door and heard Billy talking on the phone. It sounded like he was leaving a voicemail. When Tom knocked on the door, Billy hung up and turned out the light.
Tom opened the door and turned on the overhead light again. "What's going on?" he asked.
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© Copyright 2012 by Zalman Velvel Inc.
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