“I’m sorry, what?” Chalmers stood at the door. Margie Elk stood before him, glaring at him from the stoop. Despite the curled expression of anger and her heavy breaths, he couldn’t help but feel relief that one, it was a human being at the door and two … it was her. A wave of nostalgia and memory, sadness and joy hit him all at once and he grasped the doorknob extra tight for balance. “What are you doing here?”
It had been years since he had seen or spoken to Margie, who was the true love of his life, at least until Paisley came and stole his heart. The vague memory of their last real conversation, which was really him lying on the floor in a drunken stupor and not a conversation at all, brought the heat of embarrassment to his face.
She was four years younger than him and the years had been kind to her. Far kinder to her than he felt for himself and despite the anger, she still held the light in her eyes that he fell in love with the moment they met.
“Is this some kind of a joke?” Margie choked a bit on the last word as she fought between killing him and crying.
She shot her arm out at him and in her hand was a plastic head and body swaddled in a dirty gingham cloth.
As his eyes dropped, Chalmers recoiled a step. Two dark eyes, one at half-mast, stared him over delicate smile. The doll.
Margie surged ahead and pushed the doll hard into his chest, holding it there. “Do you think this is funny?” she said, the anger making her voice rough.
Chalmers felt like a small child being taunted by a schoolyard bully. Margie kept pushing the doll into him, releasing a pent up aggression years in the making. He wanted to turn and run. The foreign body against him almost felt like it was burning.
Another step back and the delicate knee, which had served him fairly well throughout a day of cleaning and clearing, whimpered and gave way forcing him to stumble backwards to the floor. Margie moved with a surprising agility as she kept the doll plastered firmly to his chest.
“Why would you do this?” she said, screaming now. “Where did you get this?”
She fell to her knees as her tears began to flow. She lifted the doll from Chalmer’s chest then slammed it back into to him once, then again, then again. Propping himself up on his elbows, he was unable to block the blows, not that it mattered. Margie’s rage lessened with each swing. Each strike came softer and softer until she fell on him exhausted and sobbing.
Chalmers dropped down to his back as the two of them lay in a pile on the floor in the front hall. With a hesitance he had not felt since their second date, he slowly moved his arms to embrace her. She gave a half-hearted shrugged intended to stop him, but for the first time in a long time, this felt good and right. He tightened his arms around her and pulled her as close to him as he could. A tear formed in the corner of his eye and when full and ready, it dripped free releasing a lifetime of tears and regret.