Clarence began slipping his phone back into its belt holster when the ringtone chimed. He glanced at the surface; Mary. He pressed the green icon, held the phone up to his ear — “Hi.”
“Where are you?”
The security of the voice-only conversation allowed Clarence to frown without reservation. “We’re in his dorm room, almost unpacked already.”
“Oh.” He’d forgotten that he’d promised to call when they arrived on campus. “So, is he in the room, with you?”
“Yeah.” Clarence nodded in recognition of his wife’s unspoken cues.
“He seem all right to you?”
Andrew closed a dresser door, turned to his father, who raised a gentle palm towards him. “Everything’s fine her, hon.”
“Is he still not talking to you?”
Clarence paused. Were you and Mom ever mad at me? He looked up at Andrew, and moving the bottom of the phone closer to his mouth, smiled broadly. “Andrew and I had a good talk on the way down here.” He sat up from his bed, stood in front of his blushing son. “Really cleared the air between us.” His eyes bulged — “Want to talk to him?”
After handing the phone to his son, Clarence excused himself, headed toward the bathroom he had seen in the hallway. The dorm was less crowded than it had been they arrived, but Clarence still had to navigate through a circus of suitcases, packing crates, enthusiastic undergraduates and their families.
The bathroom, however, was empty, and Clarence enjoyed his moment of solitude before heading back to his son’s room. Andrew still had his father’s phone on his ear.
“Love you too, Mom.” The smack of Mary’s lips was probably audible in the room across the hall; Andrew laughed, handing the phone back to Clarence. Mary somehow knew the exact moment her husband had the phone to his ear.
“When will you be at the hotel?”
Clarence blinked. “Dunno. Haven’t even had dinner yet.”
He could feel his wife grunting. “Can you call me, when dinner’s done? Or text, if you don’t feel like talking.”
“Look, it’s going to be late — ”
“Just text me.” Clarence forced himself to remain silent. “It’s not a big deal, I just don’t want to worry. I don’t think that’s asking too much, don’t you agree?”
He exhaled, long, and slow. Then nodded. “All right.” And a moment later, ended the call.