He had assumed that she was gone from his life. Not gone gone, like never seen again gone. But a twenty year old girl away at college and becoming her own woman kind of gone.
Until the horrible miracle. The one that closed universities and coffee shops and the Hot Topic at the mall. The one that closed cities, then states, then countries. The horrible miracle that became a box canyon and offered no way forward, only backward.
And so she came home.
He sat with her on the couch like they had when she was eight and they read Laura Ingalls Wilder books. Like when she was ten and they watched Godzilla movies. Like when she was twelve and he taught her the Pythagorean Theorem.
He sat with her on the couch and they watched six episodes of Buffy the Vampire Slayer, quoting their favorite lines along with Willow and Xander. They made miniature sculptures from some old modeling clay found in the bottom drawer in her bedroom. She made a hand. He tried to make a duck. And failed. They played forty three games of cribbage.
He selfishly ignored the news, social media, the recommendations. He swallowed the cost and embraced the pandemic.
For the gift it had given him.
Jay Bechtol lives in Homer, where he hopes that even a smidge of the talent of the writers living on the southern Peninsula might rub off on him.