Cynthia Sylvester: Dark Cloud Is at the Door

       I guess you both planned it that way, the way he left. I guess it was better than a big fight and him storming out the door with a suitcase, yelling, “You all just keep the house, you bunch’a lazy—”, even though us kids didn’t know we were Indians. We just thought we were Protestants with a really good tan. And you’re yelling back at him in a language foreign to us, as doors slam, dogs growl, and the sky turns the color of a really good Tequila Sunrise. He stomps through the grass that used to be in the front yard, and tears off in his truck, careening around the corner. You throw rocks, and the crows call after him, “Yeah, well, we don’t need you.”
       But that wasn’t what happened.
       Us kids were in the den, huddled around the color TV like wolf pups. It must have been a Friday. Barnaby Jones was on. We had a car like Barnaby, except ours was tricked out with an eight-track player and cloth seats. He entered the room with a suitcase the same shade of Barnaby’s LTD and set it down, even though he said he was leaving.
       With tears in his blue-green eyes, he said it was the hardest thing he’d ever have to do, but he did it anyway. Dad was brave. He left us sitting there on the yellow plaid couch that always made the back of my legs itch in the summer. It must have been summer. The TV flickered as Brother and Sister cried openly, shamelessly. I, like a real Indian or Protestant, choose to hide my sorrow outside, where the sky was not magenta, and Dad’s pick-up with a camper and rearview mirrors that stuck out like big ears didn’t careen around the corner, but it turned, rather slowly. Gravel crunched under the wheels and it sounded just like a line from a good ol’ country western song, just like a line in a story about us, just like that—
       And then he was gone.

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