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Friday, January 20, 2006


All evening. He did some laundry and shot surly looks at the teenagers that had frayed his last nerve. She hid upstairs, tired of playing referee. He banged around in the kitchen some. She banged away at her keyboard some. The distance between the main floor and the upstairs bedroom did a mushroom trip, pulsing, throbbing, closer and farther away as the hours passed.

It could no longer be borne. An excuse to be upstairs was found, and a basket of folded clothes were hauled up to the bedroom. He dropped them just inside the bedroom door. She kept her eyes on the screen. He kept his eyes on the piles he was making. Hers. His. Bundles of socks and t-shirts, jeans and brassieres. Towels made a third pile. He put them away, stuffing things into drawers, rattling hangers in the closet. The air between them popped, as though they were coasting down a hill at high speed. He dropped all pretence. Undressed. Crawled in to bed beside her.

Another hour passed. They have hard talks sometimes. They approach these talks like dogs. Circle in. Tail low. Snuffling out the scent of things. Teeth parted slightly. Mouth taking in the taste of the air. Is it a good time? Is it the right time? Dare they?

They must, and so, they do.

The hard talk isn’t about toilet seat positions or who did the dishes last. It isn’t about who spent the last ten dollars on what or the hours he works or the hours she works. It’s deeper, far deeper things that draw them into tighter and tighter circles until, nose to nose, they talk like this.

It is always the same conversation.

This is hard. This is tiresome. I am anxious for the end of this chapter. I look forward to writing our chapter - the one with you and me and no one else. No obligations to this one or that one. No reason why not to go for a week or stay in under the covers all Sunday.

They are in total agreement. They are echoes.

This is hard. This is tiresome. This is worth it. This will pass. We need to remember one another at times like these, need to remind ourselves that we are more than parents, more than heavies and must dos and grounders and praisers and oh, God. We don’t feel like much more than automatons sometimes, our voices flat and monotone, our responses pre-recorded, but we are more. We are, and we have days when we know it.

Today hasn’t been one of those days. They are lost in the list of things to do the length of their arms. They are chastisement and responsibility. They are do the dishes and get your homework done. They are earth, solid, beneath stomping feet. They are frozen water, slippery denials. There is little of fire left in them, and as for air, it’s all hot around here what with three teenaged boys blasting testosterone and bravado like a steam powered train.

They come nose to nose to remember. They speak what reminds them.

You are like this wonderful package I got at Christmas, all wrapped up in fancy paper and tied with ribbons. I opened it to find this completely unexpected six foot tall toy, and I played with it and played with it and played with it. And now, it’s my favourite toy. I have to know where it is before I go to sleep. I don’t play with it all the time like I used to, but I’d die if I lost it…”

Tears come to her eyes at this. These are perfect words. She wants to be his favourite, just as he is hers. She wants to know that even when he’s been away all day, he still reaches for her before sleep, pulls her body towards the question mark curve he makes of himself, wants to know that she is his answer.

F. Stuart

Just beautiful!
Thanks, Catherine. :)

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