I was breezing down the hallway when I saw the sun’s light reflect off the hardwood floor in front of me. I stopped in my tracks to take in such a rarity—I hadn’t seen the sun in what seemed like the entire week since I’d been home. I stared a little while longer at the floor in front of me, feeling the warmth the sun’s projection provided. But then I looked up at the front door and, through the glass, saw my dad sitting quietly on the front steps outside. His back was facing me, as he leaned against the left pillar supporting the brick where he sat. He seemed to be gazing out into the yard. I stood for a few more seconds, watching him now—his head slowly moving side to side as he occasionally reached for his cup of coffee sitting beside him.
He must have heard the door open as I retired to join him, but he didn’t turn to see who opened it. I slowly closed the door back to its resting position, quietly so not to disturb him, and I took a seat to his right, on the same step where he sat. I gazed out into the yard as well, and all was silent between us for a while.
He knew I was there because I saw him smile when I finally stopped stirring and settled in place beside him, but he never turned to face me. And that was fine—no words were really necessary for us—the enjoyment of each other’s company was all we needed. We sat and listened to the birds in the trees, we smelled the pollen from the flowers when it floated by our faces, rising through the air, we felt the heat from the sun’s rays on our arms when it peaked in between the clouds, we watched as the occasional car cruised down our street.
“Feeling a little tired today, Dad?” I asked him, looking down at his cup. “A little late in the day for coffee.”
“I’m feelin’ good, Nat,” he said. “Just enjoying the weather. It’s beautiful out here.”
“Yeah, I haven’t seen the sun in a long time,” I said as I inhaled a deep breath of fresh air and took my time releasing it.
My dad took his own time responding. He reached for his cup, brought it to his mouth, and took another sip of coffee.
“Me either,” he said finally. And it was back to silence.
“Nettie comes home from daycare in a few minutes,” my dad said after another sip from his cup.
“I usually wait out here so I can see her face light up when she sees me when she gets out of the car,” he said. “She loves it. We sit and watch the birds together. She loves the birds.”
“Selling me out, Dad? That’s what we used to do,” I said smiling. “Speaking of birds, look at that guy.” I pointed to the small bird that landed on the walkway a few feet before us. The red of its back glimmered against the sunlight as it hunched over to dig at something in the grass.
“Ah, the Cardinal,” my dad said. “He’s been here for the past week. The two of them. There’s another one around somewhere. They’re Nettie’s favorite.”
“She likes the red, doesn’t she?”
“She loves the red,” he said. “Look, there’s the other one.”
A new Cardinal landed next to the old in the grass before us, and we watched as the two began to tug at something they both seemed to be holding in their mouths.
“Look at them fight over that,” I said. “What is it, a worm?”
“Crazy, isn’t it?”
“Just seems pointless,” I said.
“They’ll learn,” my dad said. “Sometimes it just takes a little longer.”
“Yeah, you’re right.” I said as I watched my dad take another sip of coffee. Then it was back to silence.
“This sun really does feel awesome,” I said a few minutes later. “You think it’s gonna stay out like this for good now?”
With another reach for his glass and one final sip of coffee, my dad turned and finally faced me.
“It never went away,” he said. “You just couldn’t see it for a while.”
He smiled at me, and I smiled back, before the zoom of a car driving down our street and braking in front of our house caught both of our attentions.
“Look, here she comes,” my dad said. “Let’s wave.”