The clutter on Alice’s desk irritates her, like a hair caught in the back of her t-shirt. And, like the hair, she’ll wait until it bugs her enough to do something about it. Not tonight. Tonight is for relaxing. Knitting with free yarn, listening to a CD of poetry from the library, in the black leather recliner she purchased second hand for thirty-five bucks.
“Lucy! Lucy! Come!” The old beagle mix reluctantly lifts her heavy lids, head, and body, and comes obediently, tale wagging, for a pat and rub on her soft coat. “No sleeping for you. You’ll be up way too early otherwise.”
Lucy makes her way to an even softer spot, on the Mongolian rug under the grand piano, swirls a circle or two, ready to settle in again…
“Lucy! No sleeping.” Alice knows her relaxing is over, for now. She clambers, not unlike her dog might have, out of her chair.
“Come on, go outside for a bit and wake up.” Watching Lucy meander the muddy back yard, Alice empties dishes from her fifty dollar dishwasher with the battered racks. The new homemade dishwasher soap worked very well, she notes, but I’ll need to add some vinegar next time to take care of these water spots.
Lucy recovered from the back yard, knitting and book going, Alice’s thoughts wander into tomorrow. Bring Jason and Nick to work, drive two hours to get Max at his father’s, stop somewhere along the way, maybe a beach to get Lucy some exercise, home, supper, hopefully the boys will have it made
when we get back, then taxi to our respective activities…eesh, I’m tired already. And with the price of gas.
Alice shudders. She hits rewind, then stop, saying, “Better get to bed now.”
There was just something about an empty house that made Alice feel happy. Some women would be scared, Alice realizes, but she loves it, the rare times it happens. Maybe it was just that no demands would be made of her. Or maybe it was because she didn’t have to worry about being decent, or putting the toilet seat down. Maybe it was just the freedom, so rare after twenty-six years of raising hard to raise sons.
Jason and Nick would be back soon. That would be comforting, too, knowing they were home, safe, even though they were early twenties. She admits her need to know that. Nothing could change that now.
She wishes she knew where Taylor was. She wishes she didn’t think about that right now. She wishes she could be free of that as well. She wishes that didn’t make her feel guilty.
Half a dozen pillows and a heavy homemade quilt welcome her, engulf her, guilt and all. An hour later, she wakes and smiles to hear her two middle sons quietly, respectfully enter, lock the front door, let Lucy out and in, and go to bed, Lucy with Nick. Nick went out, too, tonight. Good.
“In the morning I will see them. They’re home now. Don’t worry.”
Dreams of knitted lace, singing in church, smiles.
She doesn’t remember the dream of Talyor jumping.