Fiction: Searching for Sunlight

July 5, 2018 Fiction , POETRY / FICTION

pixabay photo

 

By

Mark Kuglin

 

 

 

Every day of Marty Logan’s thirty years had been a never ending series of frustrations, disappointments or abject failures. The reasons why, he couldn’t fathom. He became convinced he’d been sentenced to a miserable and meaningless life— one without the possibility of parole. And at times, he’d even gone as far to place himself on Death Row— only to grant himself a last minute reprieve.

 

*

 

Once again broke and jobless, and days away from losing his apartment, Marty was at his wits end. He didn’t have the slightest idea what he should do next and trying to come up with a solution made his head hurt. All he wanted, in that moment, was a distraction. He inadvertently found it when his new friend Lori asked him to babysit.

 

At first, he tried to get out of it. But when Lori assured him it would only be for an hour, he relented. However, Marty quickly came to regret his decision. In a matter of minutes, he realized Ariel— his temporary charge— was more than a handful.

 

At a loss for what to do with Ariel, he decided the best course of action was to appease her. After determining she liked a nearby game room, they headed off in that direction. Once there, Marty realized— much to his chagrin— that it was only a temporary solution. Every few minutes, Ariel demanded more game tokens. And in a moment of pure frustration, Marty snapped at her, “I don’t have any more money…I’m broke and I’m about to lose my home!”

 

Instantly, Marty was filled with regret and shame. He found himself desperately hoping she would forget the whole thing. Ariel was a pain, but he knew he had no business unloading on her. Yet, when Lori returned, Marty couldn’t keep his disgust to himself. He lashed out at her and said, “Your daughter is a spoiled and undisciplined brat!”

 

“I don’t know what to do with her,” Lori sadly admitted. “She’s been uncontrollable since her dad died….”

 

Lori’s sudden— and obviously painful— revelation shocked and embarrassed Marty. It was so severe, it rendered both of them speechless. And for several moments, neither of them knew how to proceed. When they did, Marty quickly apologized and Lori accepted it.

 

*

 

Completely convinced he’d lost her as a friend, Marty was surprised when Lori phoned him later that day. After he picked up the phone, Lori quickly said, “ Ariel told me you’re having problems. I have a spare room if you want it.”

 

Unsure if Ariel told her everything, Marty said, “I can’t afford it.”

 

“I know,” Lori replied. “If you watch Ariel, you can stay for free.”

 

“I can’t,” Marty protested. “I’d feel guilty that you’re working and paying the bills.”

 

“What difference does it make,” Lori replied. “If you were working, I would have to pay for childcare.”

 

After hanging up the phone, Marty found himself vacillating— for some time— between complete disgust and utter panic. The very notion of moving in, with a single mom and a brat, wasn’t in the least bit appealing. Yet, he didn’t have any other option.

 

He was about to phone her back, and decline her offer, when he was hit with an overwhelming compulsion to accept it.

 

*

 

Over the next few months, Ariel and Marty battled constantly. Every decision Marty made was instantly challenged by Ariel or overruled by Lori. It quickly became apparent to Marty that he was fighting a losing battle. It wasn’t his intention to take anyone’s place, but it was clear Lori and Ariel subconsciously resented his presence.

 

Gradually, the fighting diminished and the three of them fell into a domestic routine. Every morning, Lori would leave for work and drop Ariel off at kindergarten. In the afternoon, Marty would pick her up and take her on an outing or straight home. Each evening, the three of them gathered around the dinner table and discussed their day.

 

As time passed, anger and resentment was uprooted. In its place, deep affection and joyous laughter took hold.

 

*

 

Throughout his stay, it had been Marty’s custom to hang out every morning, before Ariel and Lori woke up, with Angel— Ariel’s cat. After pouring himself a cup of coffee, he would go sit on the porch. Within moments, Angel would join him and jump on his lap.

 

For both of them, it was a pleasant experience. Marty sat and listened to the wind, as it blew soft melodies through the trees, while Angel contentedly purred. Their pattern continued until one day when it became obvious that Angel was pregnant.

 

In the days leading up to her delivery, Angel became increasingly agitated. She hissed and clawed at Ariel and Lori and wouldn’t let either of them touch her. Yet strangely, she had no issues if Marty did.

 

The day before she delivered her litter, Marty carefully picked Angel up and placed her in his lap. While gently stroking her, he felt a sense of peace overtake him and he closed his eyes. Within moments, he realized their breathing had, for the most part, synced. And as he focused on it, bright vibrant colors— mostly deep oranges and shades of violet— filled his mind.

 

Several minutes of pure ecstasy passed and then Marty had a sudden revelation.

 

We’ve all healed in some way but that’s all we were supposed to do…

 

*

 

On the way to the airport, Marty found himself simultaneously conflicted and serene. He knew he was responsible for Ariel’s cascade of tears and it made him feel horrible. Yet, he inherently knew, it was exactly what needed to be done. All of their paths had crossed for a reason and it was now time to go their separate ways.

 

During his flight, Marty considered his options and knew he didn’t have many. At first, and for some time thereafter, he was deeply concerned. But then, an amusing and settling thought hit him.

 

I’m Marty Poppins…Whatever direction the wind blows is where I’m supposed to be…

 

 

 

 

 

Mark Kuglin

Mark Kuglin is an American expat currently living and working near Ensenada, Mexico. He writes fiction, poetry and the occasional essay. Samples of his work can be found on his website markkuglin.com or by following him on Twitter @cr8fiction. Additionally, he has a profile and a page @markkuglincreativewriting on Facebook.

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