When I come home, and I know Trace is in, I shout up ‘Hello’.
When I come home, and I know Trace isn’t in, I shout up ‘Hi’, to Beth and Izzy.
And then I pause for a second, in the hallway, the front door still ajar. Maybe for less than a second, as the door closes behind me, I listen intently. I crane and strain, in some idiotic, ritualistic hope that I’ll hear a nonchalant ‘Hi’ from Izzy or Beth. I stand, frozen in fanciful, perpetual expectation, for a reply.
Sometimes I even go upstairs and open Izzy’s bedroom door and stride in with a repeated, but more bombastic follow-up ‘Hi’. I blink, then blink again, seeing her strewn on her bed or sat at her dresser in just a towel, putting her mark-up on, getting ready to go out.
Sometimes I even go upstairs and knock overly loudly on Beth’s bedroom door and barge in and forcefully sit on her as she lays in bed, napping, snoozing, now groaning and moaning as I sit on her.
Am I being cruel to myself? Am I inflicting this self-made torture on myself, when, let’s face it, there’s more than enough pain to go around?
I do it because I don’t ever, ever want to forget the casual, every day, commonplace tone of my ‘Hi’ and the sound of their couldn’t-care-less reply. The abject normal-ness of life Before, when I’d shout up, get a reply, and simply carry on with my day.
I do it to remind myself of Before.
I do it because I want to feel irritable about crumbs. When I’d take off my shoes in the hallway and check the state of the kitchen. When they’d made toast and not wiped the crumbs away. When they’d used pans and ‘left them to soak’.
I wish I could still go to bed knowing they were out, and that they’d return in the wee small hours with clunky going-out shoes, strutting on wooden floors, at well past the witching hour.
When the dogs would jump out of our bed to greet them at no matter what time. Or when Beth, unable to find her keys, would be rapping insistently on the front door and I’d reluctantly raise myself out of bed to let her in.
I wish they’d come back. Come home and disturb me. Irritate me. Annoy me.
I wish they’d shout down a nonchalant ‘Hi’.