by Lauren Suval
He puts his briefcase down before going inside. He rubs his right shoulder. Sore from the day. From slouching at his desk in midtown. From the commute. The New Jersey Transit has its moments.
Shannon and Lisa are squealing in high pitched tones, the kind only small girls possess when they’re arguing. This is probably over who gets to play with that doll Aunt Janet gave them last week, he thought to himself. Unfortunately, Aunt Janet is unaware that ‘sharing’ is not currently in his kids’ vocabulary.
Hey, I’m in the kitchen, Jen calls out. She’s pouring over a recipe for a new pasta dish that she saw on the Food Network. According to Jen, the Food Network is where she finds her ‘Zen.’ Whatever that means.
He shuffles in slowly, and kisses his girls on the head. They were, in fact, fighting over that goddamn doll. He then maneuvers his way through the living room to find Jen by the stove.
How long have they been going at it?
He pulls out a Red Delicious from the fridge; the man at the grocer said they were pretty good this season.
Not too long, she says, semi-distractedly; if they don’t work it out on their own, I’ll talk to them again.
Mmmm, is all he could muster.
He’s about to go up to her from behind; to gently squeeze her breasts that appear to be slightly spilling out of her violet cardigan, but he thinks better of it. ‘Save it for later,’ she’ll mutter.
But lately, ‘laters’ have been absent. Between the girls’ nightly bedtime rituals and general fatigue, lights are out by 10:30. And he misses her.
Dinner is on the table by 6:30. A salad of mixed greens with a balsamic vinaigrette and seafood linguini (heavy on the shrimp) with a white wine sauce. Plain noodles with butter for the kids.
Today, I drew pictures of trees and leaves at schooooool, Shannon says in between bites of food. She likes to drag out certain words. Jen jumps right in.
Oh yeah? Well autumn is definitely in full swing, hun; you’ll see all the leaves at the orchard next weekend.
He smiles. Jen and her apple picking.
He shifts his focus to Lisa. What about you, Lee? Any new plays on the horizon?
Jen shoots him a glance that means, drop it. Lisa made her theatrical debut as Cinderella in the first grade production a few weeks ago. With her nerves in a frenzy, she threw up twice that morning. Looks like they won’t be calling upon Yale’s drama department just yet.
Lisa drinks her water slowly. Nope, but I went on the swings at recess, she says proudly.
The swings, eh? He pauses for a minute before he continues. Gotta love flying.
After they put the girls to bed (this involves a little singing, storytelling, and a whole lot of patience), he pulls Jen close to him.
They lie together, entangled within their maroon comforter. They are safe in their bedroom. Safe inside this small house they can call their own.
Their breathing pace aligns.
Everything is going to be fine.