"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 houses is too much work.
My husband emails me his debit
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
Up to 150 boxes packed! Me.
"Another medal, please. And,
yo, your work is more fun than mine. You're settling, I'm
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.
It was here that I interrupt with wait,
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
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
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
Kelly Garriott Waite on Google+
Labels: essay, scriptic.org