She stood at the door, a finger poised an inch away from the bell. It was cold outside, November, a light drizzle. So, by the second, the choice got easier.
He sat on his third floor sofa, watched TV, snoozed a bit, knew she would get there soon. Nobody else touched him anymore, nor because he was repulsive, no, but because he lived in the land of handshakes. It was all good. There was nervous warmth in his waiting.
Like everyone, he wanted to be loved.
She pressed the bell button. Three seconds. You couldnīt hear it on her side of the door. She wanted to love him passionatelyas other women she knew of loved their fathers. She really wanted to. Something in her couldnīt surrender, though. Her body couldnīt trust, not since that time he held her to the stove.
The release buzzer sounded. She leaned into the door, pushed it open.
Would she ever dare ask him about that day, her head less than an inch from the red hot stove plates, the heat wrapping into her brain, piercing her world with fear. She didnīt remember screaming. She didnīt even remember how old she was. Small, very small. Afraid. Very afraid.
She didnīt remember why.
She realized she never would ask. Not after all this time. What good would it do? She imagined he believed she couldnīt possibly remember. After all she had been so small. If he remembered, that is. Maybe it was the adult who didnīt remember in a situation like that. She wondered what it was that made him stop in mid-rage and lift her back away to safety.
She imagined he wanted to be loved no matter what.
He wondered if he had remembered to bring up enough drinking water from the storage shelf in the garage.
He wore an old sweater she had once knitted for him. He wondered if she would remember it. If she did, it would make her happy, he thought. Brown. Fit pretty well for an item handmade by a teenager. The arms were a little long. They could be pushed up. It had holes at the elbows now and no patches. No matter.
He opened the door a slit and listened for the elevator clanking its way up to his floor.
It was an old-fashioned elevator. Small, too. Just enough for her and her one large suitcase. It had an inner door that slid open first. Then the outer door could be pushed open into the hallway.
He stood with the apartment door open behind him with a huge grin on his face. He looked small, shrunken in stature, nothing like the sometimes red-faced authority figure from the past. He looked happy, his arms wide open.
She stepped into his embrace. They held each other tight.