IT IS LATE SUNDAY MORNING. The wife, still lovely but with traces of thirty-something wear and tear start- ing to show, sits at the kitchen table over a cup of coffee. She is studying the kitchen walls. Why did we ever pick such a yellow? she asks herself, gri- macing at the wall paper the paperhanger put up only last week. She hears her husband’s not-so- steady footsteps coming down the stairs and goes to the stove and pours out a cup of their strong, black Columbian, Sunday-morning fix. She was on the third cup herself.
They had been at a late-evening party the night before. There had been no goodnights. She had been up for hours, fussing with the house. Their eleven- year old, Josh, had gotten up even earlier, miracle of miracles, and left an unholy mess in the kitchen, to say nothing of the living room from whatever he was up to baby-sitting himself last night.
The husband comes in and goes straight for the coffee pot.
“No coffee,” he says, shaking the pot.
“Open up those slits, my sweet,” she says gestur- ing to the table.
“All is forgiven,” he says sitting down. A prolonged sigh. “Some night,” he says, reaching for the Sunday paper.
“Careful it’s very hot,” she says. “Does someone have a hangover?”
“No, I’m fine,” he says, bending over the front page.
“Remarkable,” she says to no one in particular
“I didn’t drink that much,” he says.
He opens to the sports section. Her eyes wander over the room then come back to rest on the man she gave her life to. He hasn’t looked at her yet.
She watches how he feels for the cup and takes it to his lips without skipping a word of print. Maybe he doesn’t have a big head but she has a corker.
“I see where they finally got the kid out,” she says, pointing to the paper.
“What?” he says.
“You know,” she says, “the kid in Texas, the one who fell into the abandoned mineshaft. Glenda told us about it last night, don’t you remember? Right near her hometown. They got him out this morning.”
The husband rattles the newspaper and turns the page. “The Red Sox lost again last night,” he says. “God help us.”
“He was in there for thirty-six hours,” she says.
She looks for something in the husband’s face but the face is fixed on what didn’t happen yesterday in some ballpark. Does he ever hear her anymore?
“He was Josh’s age, you know,” she says.
As if on cue, their eleven-year old rumbles into the kitchen in his many-splendored Nikes, otherwise pure grunge, tossing off an aimless hi as he makes for the backdoor.
“Where are you going?” the father says, looking up.
“Out,” the boy says.
“I know you’re going out,” the father says. “I want to know where.”
“Over to Jimmy’s,” the boy says.
“Put your jacket on,” the mother says. “That sweater’s not warm enough.”
“Aw, mom,” the boy says. “I’ll be hot.”
“Do as she says,” the father commands.
The boy tears off his sweater and bangs open the hall closet for his jacket.
“What time will you be back?” his mother calls out after him, hearing the front door open. The door slams without an answer.
The father looks at the mother as if somehow it were all her fault, and the mother returns a little smirk that says he’s your son, too, you know.
That was how the day started. A typical Sunday.
“The boy was hypothermic but he’s going to be OK,” she says.
“Good,” the husband says, buried by now in his own Sunday mineshaft.
They have a whole day ahead of them like this.