The Fourth Spoon


"Who's got the fourth spoon?" I demand, looking at each of the three girls in turn. They all deny having it. But I am certain that one of them has smuggled it upstairs, warming in a mug of tea or perhaps stuck in the forth bowl--a bowl overflowing with cereal or cottage cheese or some other sort of comfort food that will help get them through the stress of these last few weeks of school.

I stir my coffee with a knife and head up the stairs in search of the fourth spoon.

Since my husband left me, exactly one week ago, Orange Cat (the blind one) hasn't been the same: He walks about the house, meowing loudly and bumping into walls; running to the basement to hide when visitors come, emerging an hour or so later, strands of dust and cobwebs dangling from his whiskers in an undignified way no self-respecting cat ought to tolerate.

I know this fact only because my son reported it to me: When he left, my husband took with him Orange Cat (the blind one), Gray Cat (the outdoor one), two bowls, two spoons, and one dog (the frightened one, not the Seeing Eye dog, and, before you can even ask, no: The Seeing Eye dog is not for Orange Cat).

My husband took our son, too.


But our separation is temporary: My husband and son moved with the pets to our new house while my daughters finish up school here. And it's strange, this process: As I empty the house, tucking away dishes and sheets and books, my husband and son live in a house mainly empty: The only furniture is a card table upon which they dine (Orange Cat naps upon it during the day) and one inflatable king-sized mattress because I was too cheap to buy two.

Two houses is too much work.

My husband emails me his debit expenditures.

I pay his electric bill.

He packs school lunches.

I arrange for a prescription refills.

My husband deals with my son's allergies.

I purchase a washing machine on-line.

Each of us is overworked and overstressed. Each of us feels we're doing too much. Each of us likely suspects we're doing a just a little bit more than the other.

We don't state that overtly, of course, but in brief texted comments we make throughout the day, snippy snippets of faux-conversation:

Did you ever unload the attic? Me. Accusatory. I know darn well he didn't unload the attic and I'm not looking forward to doing it myself.

Still at the pharmacy. Haven't had dinner yet. Him. Sympathy-seeking.

I cleaned the entire basement today Me. "Send me a medal."

Raked the front lawn and mowed all day. Him, loosely translated as, "I'm working, too."

Up to 150 boxes packed! Me. "Another medal, please. And, yo, your work is more fun than mine. You're settling, I'm unsettling."

Orange Cat is sick. He's having poo problems. Him. "See everything I have to deal with?"

The girls' car is broken again. Me. "That's nothing. Try dealing with a car that has a blocked vapor line. That's some serious gas problems, dude."

I have to patch the blow-up bed. Him.

It was here that I interrupt with wait, what?

We switch to email. It seems that the night before, the mattress was punctured by the claws of Orange Cat, still too traumatized by the move to sleep alone in the dark. My husband and son woke to a slow and steady hiss of air as they felt the hard floor get closer...closer...closer...thunk.

My husband and I switch to phone to share a much-needed laugh.

And I realize, then, that this move should be more about cooperation than competition. I realize, too, that it's time for a walk, time to clear the crabbiness from my mind.

Two miles in, I settle into a steady rhythm. I notice that the dandelions have already turned, their once-yellow faces now fat puffs of white. The cherry trees, heavy with pink blossoms, remind me of clusters of grapes hanging from the vine. The wind picks up and dashes hundreds of dogwood petals from the trees, whirly-gigging street eddies of purple and pink.

I wrap around for another two miles.

I'll find the blasted fourth spoon later.

For the Scriptic.org prompt exchange this week, Michael at http://michaelwebb.us gave me this prompt: "He was experiencing the resentment of those who discover that, despite their own grave condition, the world goes on about its business, heartless, without even so much as a long face." -Tom Wolfe
I gave dailyshorts at http://ashortaday.wordpress.com/this prompt: Have someone select one object at random from each of the rooms in your house. Now, write a story using each of those objects.



 

Labels: ,

Writing in the Margins, Bursting at the Seams: The Fourth Spoon

Thursday, May 9, 2013

The Fourth Spoon


"Who's got the fourth spoon?" I demand, looking at each of the three girls in turn. They all deny having it. But I am certain that one of them has smuggled it upstairs, warming in a mug of tea or perhaps stuck in the forth bowl--a bowl overflowing with cereal or cottage cheese or some other sort of comfort food that will help get them through the stress of these last few weeks of school.

I stir my coffee with a knife and head up the stairs in search of the fourth spoon.

Since my husband left me, exactly one week ago, Orange Cat (the blind one) hasn't been the same: He walks about the house, meowing loudly and bumping into walls; running to the basement to hide when visitors come, emerging an hour or so later, strands of dust and cobwebs dangling from his whiskers in an undignified way no self-respecting cat ought to tolerate.

I know this fact only because my son reported it to me: When he left, my husband took with him Orange Cat (the blind one), Gray Cat (the outdoor one), two bowls, two spoons, and one dog (the frightened one, not the Seeing Eye dog, and, before you can even ask, no: The Seeing Eye dog is not for Orange Cat).

My husband took our son, too.


But our separation is temporary: My husband and son moved with the pets to our new house while my daughters finish up school here. And it's strange, this process: As I empty the house, tucking away dishes and sheets and books, my husband and son live in a house mainly empty: The only furniture is a card table upon which they dine (Orange Cat naps upon it during the day) and one inflatable king-sized mattress because I was too cheap to buy two.

Two houses is too much work.

My husband emails me his debit expenditures.

I pay his electric bill.

He packs school lunches.

I arrange for a prescription refills.

My husband deals with my son's allergies.

I purchase a washing machine on-line.

Each of us is overworked and overstressed. Each of us feels we're doing too much. Each of us likely suspects we're doing a just a little bit more than the other.

We don't state that overtly, of course, but in brief texted comments we make throughout the day, snippy snippets of faux-conversation:

Did you ever unload the attic? Me. Accusatory. I know darn well he didn't unload the attic and I'm not looking forward to doing it myself.

Still at the pharmacy. Haven't had dinner yet. Him. Sympathy-seeking.

I cleaned the entire basement today Me. "Send me a medal."

Raked the front lawn and mowed all day. Him, loosely translated as, "I'm working, too."

Up to 150 boxes packed! Me. "Another medal, please. And, yo, your work is more fun than mine. You're settling, I'm unsettling."

Orange Cat is sick. He's having poo problems. Him. "See everything I have to deal with?"

The girls' car is broken again. Me. "That's nothing. Try dealing with a car that has a blocked vapor line. That's some serious gas problems, dude."

I have to patch the blow-up bed. Him.

It was here that I interrupt with wait, what?

We switch to email. It seems that the night before, the mattress was punctured by the claws of Orange Cat, still too traumatized by the move to sleep alone in the dark. My husband and son woke to a slow and steady hiss of air as they felt the hard floor get closer...closer...closer...thunk.

My husband and I switch to phone to share a much-needed laugh.

And I realize, then, that this move should be more about cooperation than competition. I realize, too, that it's time for a walk, time to clear the crabbiness from my mind.

Two miles in, I settle into a steady rhythm. I notice that the dandelions have already turned, their once-yellow faces now fat puffs of white. The cherry trees, heavy with pink blossoms, remind me of clusters of grapes hanging from the vine. The wind picks up and dashes hundreds of dogwood petals from the trees, whirly-gigging street eddies of purple and pink.

I wrap around for another two miles.

I'll find the blasted fourth spoon later.

For the Scriptic.org prompt exchange this week, Michael at http://michaelwebb.us gave me this prompt: "He was experiencing the resentment of those who discover that, despite their own grave condition, the world goes on about its business, heartless, without even so much as a long face." -Tom Wolfe
I gave dailyshorts at http://ashortaday.wordpress.com/this prompt: Have someone select one object at random from each of the rooms in your house. Now, write a story using each of those objects.



 

Labels: ,

8 Comments:

At May 9, 2013 at 10:04 AM , Blogger Chasing Joy said...

Moving is really stressful. It's good for you guys to work together.

 
At May 9, 2013 at 10:26 AM , Blogger Elisabeth Kinsey said...

My husband and I and our Mastiff and until a few months ago two cats have moved four times in five years. This "fourth spoon" phenomenon went on for years with us because we had to keep our moves to 2000 lb limit. We had "the sharp knife." This last move, I demanded more knives. I brought a couple of serving bowls we needed in NY, but ended up not needing in South Dakota. We both play the "who can be the best martyr" game and laugh at the end of the day. The breaking of floor tile and vacuum were our worst fights. Thank you for this post. Great details. :)

 
At May 9, 2013 at 10:28 AM , Anonymous Kelly Hand said...

I enjoyed reading the element of surprise here because at first it seemed as if you were truly "separated," then we see it's just temporary and that the tensions are not so grave that they mean the end of a marriage. It's just the normal kind of tension that happens when people manage one or two households together.

 
At May 9, 2013 at 11:20 AM , Blogger Jessica Winters Mireles said...

I also thought that you had separated from your husband! Yikes--you tricked me! Kelly, your post truly captured the chaos of a mother's busy life. I hope that this Sunday your family shows their appreciation for all that you do! Happy Mother's Day!

 
At May 9, 2013 at 11:45 AM , Blogger Deborah Batterman said...

Best of all is the way the rhythm and the tone really capture the sense of lives running parallel to one another . . . but with a hint that convergence is on the way.

 
At May 9, 2013 at 12:47 PM , Blogger November Rain - k~ said...

This journey has provided you with many opportunities to write about the process, and it has provided us with many opportunities to get to know Orange Cat (the blind one) and all of the rest of the willing participants (aka family) that we are allowed to meet along the way. Love it!

P.S. I am also looking forward to the inspiration generated by the settling in to a new location... :-)

 
At May 9, 2013 at 1:27 PM , Anonymous steph said...

The seeing eye dog is not for the cat - so funny! It sounds like you're handling the move pretty well even with all the stress. The text exchanges are hilarious. I look forward to posts about the new place once you're settling in. It's a delight getting to know more about you and your family!

 
At May 11, 2013 at 5:51 AM , Blogger Thomas Marlowe said...

This was great throughout but the text conversation with annotations really stood out. Perfect.

 

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