Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Serial Fiction - "Road Trip" - Day 1 (contd)

Chapter 1 - How It All Started

He Said

I was sitting at the table reading the paper when Hannah walked into the kitchen this morning. I knew she had something on her mind because she began by preparing to make breakfast. She always tries to feed me breakfast on Sunday mornings. For thirty-five years I have been telling the woman I don't like bacon and eggs, but she persists in offering to cook them every damned Sunday of my life. I think it's sort of sweet, in an irritating kind of way.

In any case, when she came into the room, I could tell she was nervous. I wanted to laugh. She's so damned transparent.
She poured me a cup of coffee and dug around in the fridge for eggs and bacon. I said, "I already ate a bowl of cereal. I don't want a big breakfast."

She slammed the refrigerator door and glared at me. I reminded myself one of these days I need to humor her and let her feed me.
She poured a cup of coffee for herself and sat across from me at the table, rifling through the paper making all kinds of irritating noises.

She drives me nuts when she reads the paper. The English-teacher-from-hell rises up in her whenever she picks up the daily paper. She doesn't read the articles for their content; she critiques the writing. She huffs and puffs and snorts. Sometimes it's funny. Most of the times I want to take the damned paper out of her hands and tell her to go do something else. Finally, I could stand it no longer. I put down the section I was reading and looked at her. I knew what she had on her mind but it really pisses her off when I let on that I'm that far ahead of her so I played dumb and simply asked, "What?"

"I didn't say anything!"

"You're waiting for me to finish so you can say something. You've already interrupted me. What do you want?"

"Well, excuuuuse me. I know you are doing something very important."

Sometimes her sarcasm makes me mad. That morning it was all I could do not to fall on the floor laughing. She looked like Laura did when she was little and was about to try to talk me into something I wasn't going to want to do. Her entire demeanor was a hilarious combination of earnest wistfulness and bull-headed stubbornness.
I shook my head and tried to look mean, but I don't think she bought it. I said, "In any case, you have something to say. So, say it."

She sipped her coffee and launched her spiel at about 150 words-a-minute. "I want to go to Santa Fe when Laura's baby is born. She's scheduled for a C-section on April 2. That is the day after Easter. I thought we could go out for Easter and stay through the baby's birth. We can take care of Travis while Laura's in the hospital and help her out for a few days when she comes home. You know we don't spend enough time with Travis. It would be a great opportunity to spend some quality time with him."

I stared at her over the top of my glasses. I could have simply agreed with her but it was too much fun watching her twist in the wind like that. "You're babbling."

"Yes, dammit. I am babbling. I know you're going to throw a fit. Go ahead and get it out of the way. I have to warn you before you start that this is one of those 'big deals to me'. I'm going to dig in my heels."

"Which means I'd be wasting my breath if I argue with you."


I laughed. "Did it ever occur to you that we have the best arguments of anybody we know?"

She chuckled, "Which is why we've been married as long as we have and practically all of our friends have been divorced at least once, ... but do not try to change the subject or distract me. I'm serious about this."

I decided I had tortured the poor woman enough. I said, "You're right. We should go. We weren't there when Travis was born and I think Laura has always held that against me a little. You know I don't like to fly. I know that the last couple of weeks before the baby is born you'll be a basket case and run up the phone bill calling Laura every five minutes. Let's make this into a road trip. We can take our time and see the sights along the way. I won't have to fly; it will give you something to do besides drive me crazy. What do you say to that?"

She put her hands in front of her face. She surprised me by not bursting into tears. That woman is the biggest cry-baby I know. She cries when she's happy; she cries when she's sad; she cries for just about any reason, and sometimes for no apparent reason at all. Instead, she threw her arms around me and shouted in my ear, "That is a positively splendid idea!" Then she smacked me in the back of the head and said, "How long have you been planning this and when were you going to tell me?"

I laughed and took a swing at her butt as she walked toward the stove. I missed. "Actually, Tim tipped me off a couple of weeks ago. He sent me an e-mail telling me that you and Laura were plotting. You know we men have to stick together. At first I was going to have you go by yourself, but Tim thinks that Laura wants me there too. So, I guess there is nothing else to do but to drive. I had the car serviced on Thursday. All we need to do is pack. We can leave whenever we want. I think maybe ten days on the road should be plenty but we can take longer if we want. We can take a different route on the way home."

She poured both of us more coffee and went into the living room to get the Rand McNally Road Map.

©2009 by Meredith Morgan

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