Playground at Night


“Daddy”, the little one asked, as she pulled on his sleeve,
“Can we go to the park? “No, sweetheart, we have to leave.”
“But why, Daddy, do we have to go home so soon?”
“Because my dear, we have been out all afternoon,
There are things I have to do, to make sure you grow up right.
Besides its getting kind of late, it is almost night.”

So he took her home, kissed his wife, and took off his coat.
He lit a smoke and cracked a beer, to wet the back of his throat.
When the phone rang he watched his wife move across the floor
And for a moment realized that he loved her more and more.
“It’s for you,” she said, “Doctor Benowsky’s on the phone
And his thrill of fear froze him, clean down to the bone.

“I’ll take it upstairs,” replied the man, and he pinched her as he passed.
At the top of the stairs he felt time dilate, slowing down then going fast.
He went to his desk, fell into the chair, before picking up the phone.
He could barely lift the thing, it seemed weighted down with stone.
“Yes Doctor,” he whispered into the piece, his voice harsh and dry,
“I’ve been waiting for your call,” he said, trying not to cry.

“My friend, I hate this part of my job, I’ve been doing this for years,
I still can’t find a way to do this without breaking down in tears.
The results are in, I’m afraid they are bad, the worst I’ve ever seen.
Despite advances in medicine, your choices are few and far between.”
“How long have I got?” the man asked with tears in his blue eyes
“There’s no way to know, days, maybe less, it will come as a surprise”

“It has spread throughout your system, gotten way out of hand.
There is no real way to tell where else it might expand
I am so very sorry my friend, I’ve done all that I can
But there is a higher authority than the mere science of man,
I know of some good hospices, places you can be at ease
Know that I care about you, call me if you need me, please.”

He hung up the phone with a buzz in his ears, a weight inside his core.
He thought of his years on this earth, his hopes for a few years more.
He saw his daughter’s far-off wedding, with an empty place saved for him
He thought of his son, becoming a man alone, his heart drew grim
And his sweet wife, the best in the world, how he loved her, dear and true
How would she continue without him, what could she possibly do?

He said he was going to go to bed early, he felt a little worn out and weary
She’d be up when the kids were asleep, her voice was warm and cheery.
He thought of leaving this life, without notice, warning or word
He imagined her reaction in the morning, when he could not be stirred
She came and lay beside him, softly kissing him goodnight.
"I love you," she whispered softly, then curled against him tight.

As he lay in bed after midnight, his thoughts chasing each other around
He wiped his sweating brow, then swept his feet out onto the ground
He woke his wife, and began to dress, you can guess, she was worried
“It’s OK, get dressed”, he said, his voice was calm and unhurried.
“Where are we going,” she asked, “in the middle of the night so dark?”
“First I’m going to wake the kids, then we are going to the park.”

©2010 Christopher Reilley

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