Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Serial Fiction - "Road Trip" - Day 1

Chapter 1 - How It All Started

She Said

Joe was sitting at the table reading the paper when I walked into the kitchen and started making breakfast. I was nervous. I was about to make a suggestion I was afraid he wouldn't like. I didn't want to fight about it, but I was prepared to make a stand if I had to. I hoped that, if I buttered him up with a big breakfast and slid in the suggestion gently at the end, maybe I could avoid a battle.

I poured him a cup of coffee and dug around in the fridge for eggs and bacon. He growled, without even looking up, "I already ate a bowl of cereal. I don't want a big breakfast."

I poured myself a cup of coffee and sat down in my usual chair, leafing through the front section of the newspaper. I knew better than to try to have a conversation with Joe until he had finished reading the sports pages. The news in my section was all bad. War. Famine. Suicide bombings. Global warming. Riots. Coups. I rather wished I could care about sports. Sports news seemed preferable to the real news, and the sports writers are the best writers on the staff at the local paper (which isn't saying much). I read the sports pages when Joe was finished simply for the joy of reading decent writing after struggling through the dreadful copy in the rest of the paper.

Joe slammed down the paper and glared at me, "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, excuse me. I know you are doing something very important."

He narrowed his eyes. If I were teasing, it would be okay. If I were being sarcastic, it meant war. I smiled and batted my eyes in a effort to make it appear I was teasing.

He shook his head and tried to look mean. I could tell by the glimmer in his eye and the way his lips turned down at the corners he wasn't really mad. He said, "In any case, you have something to say. Say it."

I sipped my coffee and took a deep breath. "I want to go to Santa Fe when Laura's baby is born. She is scheduled for a C-section on April 2. That's 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 she'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 get in some quality time."

He tilted his head down and looked at me over the top of his glasses. That look had intimidated thousands of junior high and high school students in Columbus, Ohio, for thirty years, but it didn't phase me at all. He said, "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."


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

I 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 don't try to change the subject or distract me. I am serious about this."

He put down the paper and slid his glasses on top of his head. That surprised me. I expected at least a little opposition from him. He sighed and 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 will be a basket case and run up the phone bill calling Laura every five minutes to check on her. What do you say we make this into a road trip. We can take our time and see the sights along the way. I won't have to fly, and it will give you something to do besides drive me crazy. What do you say to that?"

I put down my cup and put my hands in front of my face. For a minute I thought I would cry, but I knew that would piss him off. Instead, I stood up and threw my arms around him, "That is a positively splendid idea!" Then I smacked him in the back of the head and said, "How long have you been planning this and when were you going to tell me?"

He laughed and took a swing at my butt as I turned away to fetch the coffee pot. "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 you want. We can take a different route on the way home."

I 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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