old rotary phoneI had a dream, the kind that happens just before you wake up.  In the dream the phone rings, and I answer and it is you.

You speak my name, your voice tipping up in a question, and I know what you are going to say before you say it. Why else would you be calling? You only call on birthdays, and since that last argument I had with him, not even then.

In the dark, the smooth glass surface of my cell phone warms against my cheek.   Though I know it must be otherwise, still I picture you in your bedroom, your ear pressed to the receiver of the old rotary, the covers mounded beside you in the dark, dimly illuminated by the glow of the digital clock and moonlight filtering past the cracks of the pulled window shades.

“Your father has died,” you say, and then we listen to one another’s silence.  My voice breaks it like a tiny silver hammer on the glass of my heart.

“I’m coming home,” I say to you. I use the word automatically, though it has not described the place where he is for nearly thirty years.

I wake with the word home on my lips and the sound of the phone ringing.  When my eyes open the tears that were stealthily collecting there slowly retreat to their home, which is, and has always been, the place where he lives.

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