Carolyn says, Did you hold a three-week old baby's head in your hands today while someone drilled a hole into it's skull? She says this to her young husband who is rattling on about what a pill his boss has been lately, at the design firm where he and other young husbands compare the relative weight of fonts, where hours evaporate as they reject countless hues of orange that fail to create the right energy when placed next to medium gray.
Carolyn says, Did you clean a 73-year old woman's diarrhea out of yards of deep purple wounds running the lengths of her 73-year old legs, wounds made on purpose to get at yards of 73-year old veins that no longer do what they're supposed to do? She says this to her young husband who is anxious about a meeting with a new client who wants a new logo, a whole new image really, for his auto detailing shop, in the city, on a block that's trending up.
Carolyn says to her young husband, Did you get milk and bagels and little applesauces for Miranda's lunches? Did you get my text with the list? Why didn't you text me back? Carolyn asks her young husband this as she rummages for a tea bag, knowing he can't hear her. She resists exasperation. When she spots the bagels and applesauces she is buoyed. As she heads out the door she is only mildly tempted to check the fridge for the milk.
Carolyn slips behind the garage and follows a narrow path to a sea of overgrown grass which she must flatten with her once-white clogs to reach Ingrid's back door, the Ingrid who takes Miranda after school on Tuesdays, Wednesdays, and Fridays. Carolyn's pocket goes off. A text from her young husband: found my phone got the stuff where r u? Miranda, a quiet child, vanishes. Her room is her cloister. Home, u? She rescues the drowning tea bag and swallows her young husband's return volley: new client b late.
Carolyn wants to ask her young husband something. So she waits up for him. It was Wednesday, no shift tomorrow. No septic infections, no blockages, no oozing incisions.
Carolyn and Miranda do the things they do when Carolyn's young husband isn't home. Then Carolyn nests in the sofa and watches TV. Carolyn's young husband brings soft tacos from the place they like and feeds her a bite right from the bag. She need only move her mouth to receive his gift. Her body sinks into the sofa with a kind of transcendent satisfaction that she believes, in this moment, with the whole of her heart, is only possible from still warm mesquite-grilled chicken, wet with limey guacamole and tomatillo salsa. Carolyn asks her young husband to tell her, as he has so many times before, why even a little bit of red in a blue or an orange will make one's heart beat faster.
Margaret Eaton lives in St. Louis and longs to get back to the Northwest where you can still get a decent scone. You can read more of her stories at Opium, Rumble, and Onomatopoeia.