Author: Kemal Onor

Arkwell sat at the kitchen table. He was looking down into his coffee cup, admiring the roll of clouds. It reminded him of fast-moving July storms, and of rain on grass fields in the country. He made no attempt to stir the liquid. The mug was still full but no longer hot. His son was in the playroom. He could hear his voice rise at an injustice from his oldest daughter. It was one of those muted nights in November. When the snow has begun to accumulate at the windows and doors. That muted blanket that swallows sounds.

“Do you really have to go?” said his wife. She was still only half dressed and her hair was not yet tamed. Arkwell knew he would be able to sit a moment on the porch while she was getting ready.

“Too late to back out now,” said Arkwell, taking the coffee cup with both hands.

“You don’t think we could do without it?” Again, the voices from the playroom rose in high-squeal laughter.

“We might, but do you really want that?” His voice hung in the air like a string that had been pulled tight, then flicked to dither a single note. He looked to the window. Outside, the lake was frozen. Shadows were falling in deep patterns, and bruises of purple and apricot were filling the evening sky.

“More coffee?” She got up from the table and returned with the pot.

“I haven’t touched this one.” She put a finger in the cup. “It’s cold,” she said, and she poured the cup into the sink, and filled it fresh.

“Does it have to be tonight?”

“It’s best they don’t know. Marty is still young.”

“He starts at the academy Monday.”

“Really, they’re starting younger and younger now.”

“It runs in the family.” She gave a weak smile. The two sat a while, allowing the silence to fill between them, allowing sadness to grip the edges of their voices, and to sit in the unknown. The hours passed in their unwatched fashion. Six following five, seven following six, until the clock and time lost all meaning. It was a night where time is to be measured in the number of times the coffee pot is filled. And even that is not so dutifully watched. At some point, Arkwell rose from the table.

“Let’s walk to the water.” The two wrapped their bathrobes tight around them and put on their boots. Stepping outside, they found a cool evening. The snow was crisp to the touch, and it broke and crumbled under their weight. The two walked the path down to the water, and up the small hill where the dock would be on the other side in the summer. The night was clear, and all the stars of the universe unrolled before them, like a black carpet laid with hundreds of thousands of jewels. There Arkwell pointed to the brightest star in the sky. “See that star? Its name is Sirius. That’s where I’ll be going.