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The punctual car horn heralded
Father's homecoming from his
dry goods store.
Mother removed her apron,
checked hair, lipstick
in the small mirror hanging
over the kitchen calendar.
"Girls, open the door and
don't let the dog out,"
her redundant instructions.
She waited for him
by the parakeet cage,
hands smoothing her dress.
His Old Spice cologne, long dissipated,
now smelling of cigars and commerce,
Father handed Arlene his bundled papers,
and placed his gray Stetson fedora
in my waiting hands.
Then, our little dog barking
at their feet,
he held Mother tightly.
We stood superfluous
in this erotic tableau,
embarrassed, but too fascinated
to move or avert our eyes
at this display by our
usually shy, diffident father.
We blushed at the audible
kiss and whispered "mushy"
to each other,
our reaction
to movie love scenes.
But this was different.
It comforted us to see
that after their argument
that morning
or the night before,
they were still in love,
and whatever else that meant,
we were safe.
My sister broke the spell,
put his papers on his desk.
I wore his hat
to the hall closet
and placed it carefully
on the shelf.

Marilyn Wallner

Marilyn Wallner is an unapologetic memoirist who uses a pre-World War II manual typewriter.

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