#My52 “The Price of a Life, Part V”

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#My52: Week 6

Word prompt: swing set

Word count – 632

Reading time – 2 mins, 4 secs

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Part V

Dexter Morgan touched the heavy, dust-laden drapes.

Who hung these? Did dad ask them to? Was he trying to hide or block out the world he was no longer part of?

He pulled the drapes open, flooding the room with light.

Like the front yard, the backyard was well-kept, but the empty pool resembled a large bathtub and his swing set was gone.

The swing set had not been a simple toy but more so a covenant between father and son.

During a quick phone call home sixty days before Proctor returned stateside, he’d promised Dex a new swing set.

True to his word, after all the pomp and ceremony of his unit’s return to the base and the fallen were laid to rest, but before the upcoming celebrations with parties, cookouts, and tributes, Proctor made good on his promise.

Waking his son early on a Tuesday, Proctor and Dex enjoyed breakfast together at IHOP. The swing set was never far from his thoughts, but Dex was happy to be with his dad and thrilled when he learned he wasn’t going to school that day.

After breakfast, Proctor drove the two short blocks to Meijer’s Toy World.

Dexter’s heart was in his throat, but his excitement faded when his dad didn’t pull into a parking space.

His disappointment soon mixed with confusion when Proctor pulled up to a door behind the store. A large sign over the door read WILL CALL.

A young man sitting in a windowed office looked in their direction and came outside.

“Pick up today, sir?”

“Yes, for my boy.” Dex watched his dad hand the attendant a slip of paper.

“Whoa. I’m gonna need help with this. Open your truck gate while I grab a couple of coworkers.”

Without a word to his son, Proctor stepped from the truck to open the gate.

Dexter’s young mind tried to process what was happening. He was about to take off his seatbelt and join his father at the back of the truck when a large metal door opened next to where the attendant has been sitting.

The young man and three of his coworkers carried cardboard boxes of all shapes and sizes to the truck.

Dex flipped the seatbelt loose and got on his knees staring out the cab’s back window.

“Sure you don’t need assembly for this, sir?”

“Thanks, but we got this.”

Nothing made sense to Dex until two of the men lifted a large box into the truck bed. One of the men jumped into the truck and pushed the large box all the way to the window Dex was staring out of.

That’s when he saw it.

A large, colorful label showed the box contained the main beams and swings for the Gymboree Playland Swing Set.

The noise of his clapping and cheering sounded like a classroom of eight-year-olds instead of just one. The men stopped loading the truck to enjoy the child’s happiness as Proctor walked around the truck to open Dexter’s door.

He leaped from his seat locking his arms around Proctor’s neck.

“You remembered. I thought you forgot, but you didn’t.”

Proctor squeezed his son tight then pulled back to see his face.

“It’s all I could think about. It helped get me back home to you.”

With their eyes brimming with tears, Proctor and Dex leaned their foreheads together, not noticing the four attendants clearing their throats and looking away, moved by the love of a father for his son.

That was the best day of my life. She stole so much from me, but she can’t touch my memories.

Dexter’s jaw hardened. Mr. Gaffney’s simple inquiry into his dad’s VA benefits to find help with Dex’s tuition opened a floodgate of lies and coverups and showed Verna Morgan’s true treachery.

To be continued

Part I     Part II     Part III   Part IV

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©2019 Felicia Denise, All Rights Reserved

 

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