Lincoln came home four days later. He studied the house as he approached the front door. A small, barely two-story house but with a paved driveway and front yard with hedges and a tree to shade the porch, and a backyard big enough for the kids to play. Just as in those idyllic t.v. commercials he was sold on as a young boy—with the husband always smiling like it was a natural reflex of the world’s attention on him, driving up in his shiny, new Chevy or Buick. His woman waiting out front, at just the right time with just the right expression on her face. The one that made him feel glad to be home. To have a wife who reminded him to wipe his feet before he stepped off the mat and hang his coat and not to empty his pockets on the kitchen counters, or scolded him for passing candy to the kids when she was just about to set dinner on the table.
He came through the door with expert attention, carefully listening for sounds that had settled into late morning, almost afternoon. A quiet greeted him. It was a quiet that drowns out anticipation, but too quiet to be serene. He slid half himself around the narrow space of the open door, carrying all his weight in his knees, trying not to draw attention to the rigid cold he let in. But no one noticed. No one was there to notice.