Lynn called out for her husband. She ventured downstairs repeating. She had woken up late but couldn’t recall if today was a work day for him or not. The downstairs bathroom door opened, answering her thoughts. He stood there in the doorway smiling.
“Hey,” she said. “Didn’t you hear me?”
He scratched his chin. “Guess I didn’t.”
“Didn’t know you were off today”
“Yep, off day. Why are you yelling so much?”
“I wasn’t yelling. I didn’t know where you were.”
“You must have had a rough night, sleeping so late.”
Lynn rubbed the back of her neck. She couldn’t recall the previous night. “No,” she said. “I’m just tired.”
“Yeah, but you really slept late. It’s well past noon.”
“Yeah right, it’s not that late.”
“You think I’m joking?”
Lynn turned away from him and walked into the living room.
“What’s the matter?” he called.
She grabbed her phone from the coffee table. Sure enough the time read three thirty four. She put a hand to her head and thought. What was the previous night? The phone said today was Thursday.
“Did you reset my clock?”
He laughed. “What?”
She repeated herself, this time sternly.
He shook his head. “What kind of joke is that? I let you sleep and then pretend it’s later than it is? That’s a terrible joke.”
She smirked. “The kind you love to play.”
“You have nowhere to be. I couldn’t make you late for anything. So that’s no fun right?”
She stared at him, he seemed sincere.
“Did you take a pill?” he asked.
“What? No. I don’t think so.”
“You don’t think so?”
“Anyway school should be out. Alec should be home soon so get dressed.”
He tilted his head.
“Don’t look at me like that.”
He approached her, putting both her hands on her shoulders. “Are you sure you’re okay?”
“Yes!” She pulled away. “What’s wrong with you? And what’s the point of this game?”
He took a step back. “Lynn, we don’t have children. What game are you talking about?”
She crossed her arms. “Are we really doing this?”
His face became tight.
“Answer me!” she screamed. “What’s going on?”
“Have you taken any pills? Answer me, please.”
She turned away from him and headed toward the stairs. He followed behind, grabbing her shoulders.
“Let me go!”
There was a thud. Not from her. She fell to the floor. The front door opened. She smiled, reaching out for what she wanted, hoping for what she needed. Tears came. The front door closed. She was home. She was free.
It was difficult to apologize for stumbling, and yet she had done it before. Those who knew expected the fall and the hoping ones hoped again.
“Lynn, you’re not in that hole anymore.”
She had heard this before.
Rickey Rivers Jr was born and raised in Alabama. He is a writer and cancer survivor. He has been previously published with Fabula Argentea, Back Patio Press, Cabinet of Heed, (among other publications). https://storiesyoumightlike.wordpress.com/. You may or may not find something you like there. Twitter.com/storiesyoumight His third mini collection of 3×3 poems is available now: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B07VDH6XG5
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