Unnormal Normalcy

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Short Story Saturday

This, dear readers, is a very, very, very, very old short story. I have absolutely no idea how long ago I wrote it, but it has been at least five years. (Yes, I did some editing before I posted it.) Enjoy!

Second Chance

Chance rolled out of bed and yawned. His gaze fell on the dog calendar hanging on his wall. He could see the number at the bottom of that day’s box; 1,139. Three years, one month, and thirteen days. That was how long he had been alone, without Mack.

On the dresser beside that calendar was a framed picture of a young man with sleek brown hair and bright hazel eyes. Chance walked over to the dresser and lifted the picture from it. He gently brushed off the thin layer of dust that had accumulated since he’d last cleaned two days ago.

For 1,139 days he’d looked at the picture, hoping that the pain would go away, but for 1,139 days it had remained. He couldn’t bring himself to get rid of the picture, or to date anyone else. There was a yearning still, a yearning that wouldn’t die. He wanted to be with Mack again, and he had ever since they’d parted ways 1,139 days ago. Seven states lay between them now, but for the first time in 1,139 days, Chance was ready for a change of scenery.

He put down the picture and sat on the bed. From his nightstand he pulled a folded paper. It was what Mack had jotted down his new number on before he’d left.

Feel free to call me if you ever need me, or if you just want to. And, you’ll always be welcome at my house, if you ever want to come to Georgia.

Would Mack even remember those words? Would he really want to talk to his old boyfriend from New York?

Chance glanced at the clock, and he knew Mack would be awake already, even on a Sunday. With trembling fingers he picked up the phone and dialed the number on the paper. He tapped his foot as he waited, listening to the ringing on the other end.

“Hello?”

Chance swallowed. “Hi, Mack… It’s Chance.”

There was a silence, then a quiet, “Chance?”

“Yeah.” He fiddled nervously with the paper that he still held.

“It’s been so long,” Mack practically whispered. “How are you?”

“I’m… fine,” Chance replied, fighting back a lump in his throat. “I… miss you.”

“I do, too.”

Chance finally brought up the nerve and asked, “About what you said before you left… Am I still welcome at your place?”

“Of course. Always.”

“Good, because I think I want… us to get back together.”

When Mack spoke his voice was more distant, as if he had taken the phone from his ear. “Honey, can it wait a minute?”

Chance felt an iron fist pummel his chest.

“Sorry about that.” Mack’s voice was clear again. “What were you saying?”

“I’m sorry,” Chance replied quickly. “I should have known.”

“Cha-”

He hung up on him, tears burning his eyes. After 1,139 days he was finally certain that it was over. He should have known that Mack would have moved on. He was a lovable guy, after all. With shaking hands he tore up the paper holding Mack’s phone number. He wasn’t going to thrust himself into a life where he wasn’t wanted.

The phone rang beside him, but he didn’t pick it up. He flopped back on the bed, letting the tears come. Then the phone stopped ringing and he heard Mack’s voice from the answering machine in the den.

“Chance, please pick up. Chance, please.”

As soon as the phone started ringing again, Chance went to the den and unplugged the answering machine.

~~~~~*~~~~~

For three days Chance stayed at home in a deeply depressed state. Mack had stopped calling after the first hour of that first day, but that didn’t make him feel any better. He called in sick to work, then took his remaining two weeks of vacation time. Fortunately, he had an understanding boss.

A knock on the door brought Chance out of his depressing thoughts on the that third afternoon. Wondering who could possibly want to visit a moody gay guy who was still in his pajamas, Chance answered the knock. What he saw shocked him.

There stood Mack, exactly as he remembered. He was dressed in a light jacket, jeans, and a pair of sneakers. His brown hair had been cut shorter since they’d been together, but everything else about him was so familiar.

Except the little girl standing by his side, holding his hand.

She had long brown hair that flowed about her shoulders. Her shirt and skirt were both pink, and she had matching shoes. The hand that wasn’t holding onto Mack’s awkwardly held the hem of her shirt, as if she were nervous. Her bright blue eyes looked wearily at Chance. She couldn’t be any older than three years.

“Chance,” Mack said quietly, “this is Ella, my daughter.”

Chance swallowed back tears. Mack had obviously moved right on as soon as he’d gone to Georgia. He couldn’t find his voice, only stare.

“Her mother is my sister,” Mack went on. “She couldn’t take care of her, once her boyfriend left, so I adopted her. It was a couple months after I moved back there, and I thought it might help me to get over you. Raising her kept my mind off you at times, but I haven’t stopped missing you, or loving you.”

Chance looked up, surprise stopping his tears.

“I guess we had a misunderstanding on the phone. You heard me talking to Ella, not anyone else. She’s been my only love since you. When you ignored all my phone calls I figured the best thing to do was take some time off and come visit you. Why did you call?”

Chance glanced away. “I… wanted us… to get back together.”

“I’ve wanted that since the day we were split apart,” Mack told him softly. “It’s what I had hoped for when I heard your voice again.”

Chance took a step back, holding the door open. Mack took the hint and stepped inside, leading Ella. Chance smiled as he closed the door, then hugged his old love tightly. Mack returned the hug, but they didn’t kiss as Chance had hoped.

“We can’t get too far ahead,” Mack murmured into his ear. “I don’t want her freaking out. You need to win her over.”

Chance nodded and pulled away. He wanted so desperately just to pull Mack into the bedroom after so long, but he held himself in check. Mack gave him an encouraging smile, and Chance knelt down before Ella, who had been watching them.

“Hi,” he said with a smile. “Your name’s Ella, right?”

She nodded vigorously.

Mack knelt down next to him. “This is Chance. He’s a very dear friend of mine from years ago.” He put a hand on Chance’s shoulder. “Why don’t you say hi?”

Ella just waved bashfully.

Mack smiled at her. “He won’t hurt you, I promise. Will you Chance?”

Chance shook his head. “Of course not. Would you like to watch TV?”

Ella looked at Mack, as if asking permission.

“Let’s get your things from the car,” he suggested, getting to his feet. “You can watch one of the movies you brought.”

Chance got up as well. “I’ll get dressed while you do that,” he declared.

Mack gave him a smile, one that mixed gratitude with relief and joy, then he left with his daughter. Chance walked to his room, thinking he might be dreaming. It wasn’t until he was halfway dressed that it finally hit him; Mack wanted their relationship back as much as he did. That was why they’d come all the way from Georgia just to see him.

With a lighter step, he went back downstairs to the den. Mack had just put in one of Ella’s Barney movies, and sat her down on the sofa to watch. He spotted Chance and walked to the kitchen, motioning for him to follow.

“How long are you staying?” Chance asked.

“I have to be at work Monday,” Mack replied. “So we’ll probably leave Saturday morning. Will you come with us?”

Chance shook his head. “It’ll take me longer than a few days to get things organized here. It’ll be a month or so.”

Mack nodded. “I didn’t think about that.”

“I’m on vacation for two weeks,” Chance explained. “I can hand in my forms when I go back to work. Then I’ll just have to pack and sell off a few things, mainly the house. I’m sure Mom would take care of that for me, though.”

“Do they hate me?” Mack asked suddenly.

Chance, stunned, shook his head. “I don’t think so. I know Mom would be more than happy if I asked her to sell the house so I could be with you again.”

Mack smiled slightly, then pulled Chance into his arms. They embraced tightly, and they kissed softly. Mack had tears in his eyes when they pulled away, and Chance gently brushed away the ones that escaped.

“I never really thought this would happen,” Mack whispered. “I’ve missed you so much, Chance. I love you.”

Chance smiled. “I know exactly how you feel.”

Just then they were startled by Ella wandering in. “Daddy, can I have a drink?” she asked.

Mack composed himself within moments. “You should ask Chance. This is his house, not ours.”

Ella looked up at Chance awkwardly. “Can I have a drink, please?” she questioned quietly.

Chance smiled and walked over to the refrigerator. “What would you like? I have milk, orange juice, or water.”

“Do you have chocolate milk?” came her soft voice.

“We can make some,” Chance replied, pulling out the milk and chocolate syrup. He took them over to the table, then grabbed a plastic cup for her. This he filled just over half way with milk. “Tell me when to stop,” he told her as he began squeezing in the syrup.

“Okay,” she said a moment later.

Chance stopped and got her a spoon. “Do you want to mix it, or should I?” he asked.

“Can you do it, please?” she replied.

Chance smiled and stirred the mixture.

“Can I have a straw?” she requested when he finished.

He nodded and got her one. With a smile he placed it in the cup, then removed he spoon, taking a bit of the chocolate milk for himself. “It’s ready,” he told her.

She giggled. “Thank you.”

“You’re welcome,” Chance told her with a smile. “You can drink it in the den if you promise to be careful.”

“I promise,” she vowed, hopping off the chair she had been kneeling on. She took her cup into the den where Barney was still playing.

When he turned to take the milk and chocolate back to the refrigerator, the spoon in his mouth, he saw Mack. He was leaning against the wall, smiling.

“You make a really great father,” he stated.

Chance smiled, but could say nothing around the spoon. He dropped it into the sink, then replied, “Thanks. Do you think she’ll think so too by Saturday?”

Mack nodded. “She’s warming up to you, and we haven’t been here an hour yet.”

Chance smiled again. “I’ll do what I can.”

~~~~~*~~~~~

The night was clear and quiet, except for the sound of the box fan running outside the guest room that had been given to Ella. They’d found it in the basement, after Mack had explained that she had one at their house, and she couldn’t sleep without it. He’d used the sound to soothe her into sleep when she was a baby, but they’d found other, just as beneficial reasons for the loud fan that night.

“So, what did you tell her?” Chance asked, curled up with Mack in bed.

“Just that I would be sleeping in the room at the end of the hall and to make sure she knocked before she came in if she needed me,” Mack replied.

Chance let him run a hand down his bare arm. “I meant before, about why you were coming and about us,” he clarified.

Mack rested his hand back on Chance’s shoulder. “Just that there was someone I cared a lot about that I needed to see again. I said his name was Chance and he was a very nice man who meant more to me than I could ever imagine. I told her I missed him because I hadn’t been able to see him in three years.”

“Three years, one month, fifteen days,” Chance corrected.

“You counted?” Mack asked, raising a brow.

Chance nodded. “I thought maybe the pain would go away after a while, but it never did. I just marked my calendar with each full month that passed, hoping the numbers would start to be just numbers. They never did.”

“What made you call me?” questioned Mack softly.

“I didn’t want to be alone anymore,” Chance murmured, “and I thought you might just want me back.”

Mack smiled and gently stroked Chance’s cheek. “When you called, I was so hopeful. I thought you were asking to come stay with me. Of course, I had to be an idiot and talk to Ella when I knew you had to be incredibly anxious.”

“I shouldn’t have hung up on you,” Chance argued. “It was my fault. I should have let you explain. I just jumped to conclusions.”

“I love you, Chance,” Mack breathed, bringing their lips hairs apart. “We both made mistakes that day. It’s okay now.”

Chance smiled. “I love you.” He pressed his lips to Mack’s, realizing how much he’d missed this closeness over the last 1,141 days.

~~~~~*~~~~~

Ella warmed up to Chance quicker than he had expected. Thursday evening she convinced both him and Mack to watch one of her Barney videos with her. They sat on the sofa, Mack in the middle with an arm around each of them. Chance sat with a hand on Mack’s knee and his head on Mack’s shoulder, pathetically drawn in by the video.

Without warning, Ella looked up at Mack and asked, “Daddy, do you love Chance?”

Chance, a bit startled, glanced at Mack, wondering how they were going to explain it. He had been thinking over it for a while, but he hadn’t expected it to be so soon.

Mack looked at his daughter, fully composed. “What would you say if I told you that I did?” he asked.

Ella wasn’t daunted. “I like Chance, Daddy. Can Chance be my daddy too?”

Chance and Mack both exchanged a smile, and Chance was truly relieved to hear that she accepted their relationship.

“Yes,” Mack stated, turning his gaze back on Ella. “Chance is going to move in with us in a little while.”

Ella grinned, clapped her hands, then returned her attention to the movie. Mack hugged Chance tightly, a hug he returned before reaching over to gently squeeze the little girl’s shoulder.

“Thank you, Ella, for liking me,” he said, fighting tears of joy.

She just smiled at him.

~~~~~*~~~~~

It was hard to tell them goodbye Saturday morning, but he did it. He made breakfast, then helped load the car. Ella hugged him goodbye and gave him a kiss on the cheek. With a smile he hugged her back and kissed her forehead.

“Why aren’t you coming?” she asked when he let her go.

“I’m coming by myself in a few days,” he told her. “I have some things I need to do first.”

“Come soon,” she ordered, then climbed in the back seat of the car.

“I hate to say goodbye again,” Mack admitted as he approached.

Chance nodded. “Me too. I’ll be there in a month, I promise.”

“I left the directions for you in your room,” Mack stated. “Don’t lose them.”

“I won’t.” He put his arms around Mack in a fierce hug. “I love you.”

“I love you, too,” Mack whispered, then kissed him lightly. “Call me, everyday.”

Chance nodded again as he let him go. “Of course.”

Mack smiled, though he had tears in his eyes. He got into the car and started the engine. As Chance watched the car pull out of the driveway and turn down the street, both Mack and Ella waving from within, his vision blurred with tears. This time they were tears of joy.

~~~~~*~~~~~

Exactly one month later Chance rang the doorbell of the neat white house. He saw a little face in the window and a happy shriek followed the ring of the bell. Moments later the door opened. Mack half pulled him inside to hug him tightly and kiss him deeply. They were both crying when they pulled away, and Chance knelt to embrace Ella.

After bringing in all Chance’s bags and sharing a joyful dinner, they sat down to watch TV, Ella sitting between both Mack and Chance, who had their arms around each other. Chance couldn’t help but smile. At last he was completely happy, and life was his. He had what he’d wanted for so long.

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July 16, 2011 - Posted by | Short Story Saturday

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