You leave work five hours late. Your wife knows, you texted her at lunch, you texted her all day, like every day. She says, I’ll be in bed. Try not to wake up J. You stand in your cubicle and then sit back down because there’s nothing else to do.
It’s raining. The car is fogged up and you hold your phone to your ear while driving, full volume, because you lost your headphones and want to listen to a podcast about why Trump won’t win. It’s comforting. But not really. When you park in the driveway you push the car door closed trying to make as imperceptible a sound as possible. The garage is too noisy for this time of night, for Joey, who would wake up and scream if he heard its rumbling. You go in the front. You make your way slowly up the stairs, past the laundry, and past Joey’s bedroom. The cat does not meow. You are embarrassed about owning a cat.
You get into bed and your wife whispers, “You lock the door?”
Now, you definitely locked the car, you remember trying the handle after pushing the door closed, but you were so focused on being quiet when coming in, it seems possible, very possible, you did not lock the front door.
You consider a realistic worst case scenario and are immediately troubled that the word you plugged in before “worst case scenario” was “realistic.” Because of all the words to place before “worst case scenario,” “realistic” is the most terrifying. A less scary/bloody/rape-y/murder- y/cage in the basement-y word would have been “likely.” Because at least with “likely” you are remembering all the days when you and your family have slept peacefully and awoken the next morning marred only by your own drool and imaginations, all that daily fading as you and your son stand sleepily near your wife eating her cereal, making faces in the small kitchen. But do past events (non-events) dictate future events (non-events)? You will have that question in your head for less than a day and never arrive at an answer.
A question you are able to answer is whether or not you locked the front door. You could get out of bed now and check, it would be so easy, but you won’t. And you could check the camera, FRONT 2, from your phone and see if you stalled at the door as you came in. The system you purchased does not have zoom capabilities from your phone, you’d have to get out of bed and check on the computer for the zoomed information, but, again, you won’t do it. And if you were going to get up and check on the computer, scrutinize pixels, you might as well just go downstairs and check the fucking door. But why are you so angry? There’s a principle here, somewhere. Why are you angry now and why have you been angry all day, all week? Something has changed, you know it, you feel it, but inside yourself there are only questions.
And it occurs to you as your wife whispers, “Seriously, did you lock the door?” that there is no relation between the safe nights you and your family of three plus the cat have spent here in this house and locking the door. That your safety, your family’s safety, is a result of nothing, a result of no door at all. If someone, or some thing, wanted to get in the house, get to your family, they would find a way regardless of any door. But you can’t say this at 2 a.m. to your wife who is just asking a reasonable question. Especially considering that you forget to do this kind of thing often. So you can’t say what you’d like to say, “It doesn’t matter,” but you want to make your point, want there to be some tangible application of your new belief that locking the door has nothing to do with your family being alive, and so instead you ask, “What kind of question is that?” And you repeat your question, because she says nothing, and you see, of course, she’s already asleep.