She allowed herself ten seconds of silence at the sound of garage door opening and closing.
After, she opened her eyes and shut down her computer, straightened her desk and rose from the office chair to move to the kitchen.
She checked on dinner, tucked a few more plates into the lower drawer of the dishwasher and wiped down the counter. He opened the door, an hour later than planned and dropped his briefcase on the bench. He gave no response to her welcoming smile and inquiry about his day outside of, “Eh. It’s work,” and then a quick stop to rifle through the mail on the table and a walk to the bedroom to change after stepping out of his dress shoes and kicking them under the same bench.
She moved across the tile, gave him a hello hug and whispered a “Happy Friday,” in his ear. His brow remained furrowed and she resisted the urge to ask him if he’d had a bad day. She stepped back and settled her smile into its place and stopped herself again from asking, “What’s wrong, honey?”
She finished the sauce for the asparagus and checked the timer on the front of the oven, then walked onto the patio to bring in the steaks waiting under the grill cover. She finished the sauteed mushrooms and plated all for him and brought it in to the living room with a big glass of milk. He had thrown on his rugby t-shirt and a pair of black mesh shorts and lay sprawled in front of the television. He looked up and smiled and said thank you and looked around the curve of her hip to catch the update on the Tour de France. She apologized for not bringing him the steak knife and turned on her heel to return to the kitchen.
It was 7:38 and she was late for book club which was on the calendar right between the appointment for her job interview with Clay & Co., and just after the red X meaning her period was due last Sunday.
She took the clothes from the washer and transferred them to the dryer, pulled his jeans off the line and carried them back upstairs to the closet. He asked for more milk and she brought him a refill. He eyed her breasts falling out of the top of her maxi dress and made a pass at her by way of suggesting she might lean over and put the milk on the table one more time for him.
It wasn’t what he said, or how he said it but more how late she was in getting on the road and the 20 minute drive across town to Karen’s on top of the wrestling with herself over whether it was easier to just stay home or to deal with the silent treatment for the next three mornings. And then came the pat on the sofa next to him and her knowledge of the impending failure of her ability to pass the test of choosing him over her friends that made her mind claw the air for the words to tell him that this was just a couple of hours with friends and the ease of having the big kids at the neighbors, the house is all in order and she has a long drive to get to Karen’s on the East side. “Oh, all the way to the East side? And there will be wine and is someone going to drive you? No? Don’t take a chance and drink and drive.” And the, “When did you say you’d be back?” And the kind reminder, “Don’t stay out too late, like last time, I fell asleep and the door was locked and the entry lights were out and you didn’t want to ring the doorbell and wake the baby.”
She looked into his eyes and stood up a bit straighter.
#for Reticent Mental Property. Image courtesy of the web.