by Gary Davison
Haley turned into the driveway and parked in the middle, blocking both sides of the drive, just like she did in high school. Dad would think it was funny, in a nostalgic sort of way, but Mom, ever so practical, would give her ‘the look’. Her parents said they would be out of town until tomorrow, so she let herself in.
Being extra quiet he saw a faint sliver of light as it bled through the edges of his hiding place. It was cramped and dark, with barely enough room to move.
Starving, Haley dropped her bags and headed straight for the fridge, finding some gooey chocolate cake. She hadn’t been home in two years, thanks to grad school and a job fourteen hundred miles away. After savoring the last crumb, she licked the chocolate from her fork and called Samantha, her BFF from high school, saying they had to get together later and catch up on everything. Operating on a fresh sugar buzz, she trudged up the stairs.
His thoughts filled with anticipation when he heard footsteps, the creaking of stairs, and the soft, then loud noise shoes make moving from rug to hardwood.
Dragging two suitcases, and an obscenely large purse she entered her old room which was like a time capsule from her high school days. While putting her clothes in the drawers Haley looked around at her yellow and blue pom poms and boy band posters hung proudly around the walls. Good memories she thought, looking at her menagerie of stuffed animals, all of which had a name.
Listening carefully, he heard the whisk, whisk sound her jeans made, fabric against fabric as she moved about.
Walking over to her bookshelf she picked up a notebook and thumbed through pages of unfinished ‘to do’ lists, doodles and half-written stories. Laying the notebook down, she saw it…her favorite toy, sandwiched in the middle of a row of books, like comic relief. With a big grin, Haley reached out and touched the smooth, wooden knob, attached to the chrome plated crank…
Hearing drawers sliding open and closing was a familiar sound, but nothing as recognizable as the tune that began to play.
Turning the crank of her beloved Sock Monkey jack-in-the-box, Haley waited for the surprise ending, that wasn’t really a surprise anymore, but made her laugh anyway. On the last note the monkey would spring up through the lid bouncing, and bobbing.
A slamming, loud and from behind her made Haley turn her head, panicked as the closet door flew open, bouncing off the wall, and a man moved in a blur, like a demon straight towards her. She gasped and froze, dropping her Sock Monkey, as the man screamed insanely loud along with the rest of her friends, piling out of the closet, yelling.
“Welcome Home Haley!”
Haley’s terror, quickly turned to surprise and smiles, as Samantha gave her a bear hug. Between the laughter, Haley bent down, picked up her Sock Monkey and put him carefully back on the shelf. Haley and her friends then spent the next hour laughing and talking, catching up on who married who, who’s dating who, and more importantly, who’s cheating on who. After more hugs from all her friends, they all agreed they should get together later that night at the local burger joint.
Sitting alone between the stacks of dusty memories, he was saddened he didn’t get to see the surprise and joy in her eyes as he sprang out, like he did when she was a little girl. The Sock Monkey would have to remain steadfast as he was taught. He could do it. Haley would turn the crank again someday, and he would be patiently here, listening carefully, and anticipating.