The porch was enclosed, and the tall windows were open all around, enabling a cross breeze. She sat at the edge of the chair, a laptop and a cup of green tea in front of her. She typed, pausing to watch the birds at the feeder and a red squirrel eating the seeds that fell onto the deck. She was alone in the house. The only sounds she heard came from the tapping of the keys and the birds that bumped against the sliding glass door.
She got up from her chair from time to time, and checked the clock in the kitchen or warmed her tea in the microwave. The third time she looked at the clock, she went to the stove and set the oven timer to go off in thirty minutes. The pan she’d used for scrambled eggs that morning was still dirty, but she left it there and opened the back door. She looked out and saw no one, and came back to peel and slice an apple which she laid out on a plate. She opened the refrigerator and pulled at a broken drawer. “Dammit! Stupid piece of…” With the third pull, she managed to take out two squares of cheese to place next to the apple, arranging everything in neat piles. She brought the plate to the kitchen table, setting a napkin next to it. She looked out the door once more and went back to her laptop to type.
The van arrived in her driveway in the middle of a sentence, and she jumped when the driver beeped the horn. She scurried to the back door, down the steps and out to the driveway. The van driver got out to open the door for her son, and continued to tell her the story she had started this morning, as though no time at all had passed. “Well, it looks like it’ll be two more days.”
“Two more days?” She watched as he shimmied off the seat and swung his backpack off to hand it to her. She walked backwards towards the steps as she spoke. “Oh, right. Your husband. He’ll get out of the hospital Tuesday then?”
“Yep, which means I gotta look on the internet for some meals he can eat. The doc said no carbs. My husband’s not gonna like that!” The van driver climbed back in, cackling and shaking her head as she backed out of the driveway.
Her son was already sitting at the table. She watched him eat all the apple slices first, and asked him questions about his day. Before she finished speaking, he got up from his seat and hurriedly took his plate into the dining room, leaving the napkin where she’d placed it. He sighed loudly at his mother, and she stood in the kitchen with her hands on her hips.
“Okay then… Poopyhead.”
When he was done eating, he opened the garbage pail to throw away the dish. “No! That’s not garbage, Cliff! Put it in the sink!” He huffed at her again and tossed the dish carelessly, so that it knocked over the wine glass she’d used the night before. “Hey, what did I tell you about that? You know how to put the dish in the sink the right way. Oh my god!”
He ran into the family room, put on his headphones and clumsily plugged the headphone jack into his iPod. She had begun loading the dishwasher when he approached her, offering the iPod for adjusting.
“What do you want me to do?” She waited until he answered, “Hep, pweese.”
“You want help, yes!” She shoved the jack all the way in, and returned it to him. The timer went off and she took two pills from the pharmacy bottle, filled a glass with water and followed him back to the family room. . She placed the two pills in his mouth and held a napkin under his chin to catch the water spilling out.
He allowed her to kiss his forehead, and she struck various dance poses to entertain him. He laughed out loud and hugged her neck tightly, and they swayed back and forth, ignoring the beat of the music playing in his ears.