Sunday Afternoon

Paul Maka


The sound of a car pulling into the driveway takes my mind out

of the world of Robertson Davies. A blue pen and a green highlighter

rest on my knee. The car door slams shut. I close the book

and listen. No voices. Dad must be home. My Sunday afternoon

study period ends.

I hear his boots thud up the front porch steps, then the kicking

off of salt and slush. The screen door creaks open. Keys rattle. He

always tries at least seven before finding the right one. The dead bolt

slams back, the door swings open. The alarm box in the hall sounds

its computerized warning beeps.

“Hello? Hello? Is anyone home?” Dad takes a few steps into the

hall. “What are you doing in there?” He stands at the doorway.

I sit in the living room, the quietest and most comfortable room

in the house. “I have to finish this book for class tomorrow.”

He grunts and walks away.

I pick Fifth Business back up. The main character was killed by

the usual cabal: himself, first of all; by the woman he knew; by the

woman he did not know; by the man who granted his innermost

wish; and by the inevitable fifth, the denouement.

Who were the two women? I flip back a few pages and start to

reread a selection.

“Oh, Paul, don’t rest your feet on there! What are you doing?”

Dad stands in the doorway again. My feet rest on the solid oak

coffee table. I feel comfortable.

“Can you leave me alone? I’m trying to get some work done!”

He walks away and mutters, “Work? That’s work?” His sarcastic

laughter trails from the room.

I grab my books, pen and highlighter and storm down the

basement stairs. The only English class Dad took was designed for

engineers. He laughs when he tells the story. “We never even read

the book. We all just copied off the smart guys. Ha. They just sat

there in the cafeteria with their notebooks spread open on the table

and we stood around writing everything down. You didn’t have to

do any work and you still passed.”

I am in the English Specialist program at UTM. I have to read at

least four books a week just to keep up.

I turn on my computer. The fan whirs and the tower vibrates. I

wedge a book up against it to stop the noise. Upstairs, Mom arrives

home. I hear Dad yell at her. He complains about my little brother


“All he ever does is watch TV.”

I know this song. I can’t hear Mom’s tired response. It doesn’t

matter. It’s the same fight every day. Michael maintains a B average

in school.

I flip open my notebook and find my assignment: Write a detailed

account of family life. I type a few points.

“...and what about Paul? I never see him doing any work. All he

does all day is play computer games. What kind of courses does he

take? I wish I had classes like that when I was in university.”

Dad comes down to check up on me as I type my essay. The

screensaver comes on when I stop to think. He thinks screensavers

are computer games. My heart pounds. My hands tremble. I want to

yell something at him. Instead, I write.