Today was the last day of my paternity leave. I want to go back to work but I also don’t –it’s a strange feeling. Over the years I’ve developed a taste for work. It feels good to be productive. But I think this is in the face of its inevitability. What other choice do we have? Is it better to learn to appreciate work because it’ll always be there? Or to stick it to the man our whole lives, never settling, and end up dreading most of what we spend our lives doing?

We waited on the highway exit bridge, in traffic, coming home from the bookstore. The sky was white – not just the clouds, but the sky itself, and the sun was setting. I noticed the bushes along the guardrail, carelessly planted and uncared for. We got into the turn lane, the light turned green, and we merged onto the highway.

We traded in some used books, ones I knew I wouldn’t read again, and got some new used ones: Pastures of Heaven and Travels with Charlie by John Steinbeck, the Pickwick Papers by Charles Dickens, and The Journals of John Cheever – basically an A+ book haul. The books sat in the back seat in a bag next to my newborn son. My wife sat next to me. We drove until we hit some traffic, got off another exit, and took the back way home.

At home we made a frozen dinner and steamed some vegetables. We sat at the table. I drank a small glass of red wine and pealed the price stickers off the used books while my wife looked at our sleeping son in his cradle.


© Daniel Douglas


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