Sweet Thyme Baby – 32

 

Copyright © 2012 by Drusilla Campbell. All Rights Reserved.

32

(Start at the Beginning of Sweet Thyme Baby)

(Click here to read Section 31 first)

 

“What do you mean, I frightened him? I’m his father.”

 

“You yelled at him,” Sharon said.

 

“You would have too, Sharon, if you were standing naked in the kitchen and all of a sudden the door opens –.”

 

“He thought you were someone else.”

 

“Goddammit, Sharon, that’s ridiculous. What’s wrong with him?”

 

“Honey, he was half asleep.”  And so am I, Sharon thought. “Go have your shower. I’ll start breakfast.”

 

“There’s something wrong with him if he looks at me and –.”

 

“What were you doing? Naked in the kitchen.”

 

“Can’t a man be naked in his own house?”

 

“But you never –”

 

“Can’t a man change?”

 

“What were you doing?”

 

“If you must know, I was standing at the mirror, I had my mouth open and I was trying to see in the back. I have a toothache.”

 

Sharon laughed.

 

“I’ve got a toothache, for Godsake –.”

 

“You should have woken me.”

 

“I thought there was some of your brother’s whiskey in the bottom cabinet.”

 

“You wanted whiskey?”

 

“Dammit, Sharon –.”

 

“Don’t curse, Lance. That’s the third –.”

 

“You’re counting how many times I swear? What is this, the fucking Inquisition?”

 

Sharon could not remember when, in the years of their marriage, she and Lance had ever had an argument like this. Like two trains passing on adjacent tracks, two trains with passengers at every window screaming and gesticulating and the wind and the noise and the speed rushing their words away as if they had not spoken at all.

 

She smoothed the hair off his forehead. “Are you okay, Lance?”

 

He jerked back. “Would you be okay if your son saw you and started screaming?” He wiggled his jaw from side to side. “I can’t afford to be sick, Sharon. I’m in the middle of tricky negotiations.”

 

She wanted to know what these were, but this was not the time to ask. Hamish’s screams had surprised him; but more than that, she knew his feelings had been hurt. “I made you an appointment for a week from Friday.”

 

“That was the best you could do?”

 

“Honey, school’s out.”

 

“I’ve got a lot on my mind. I can’t be sick. And I need my sleep, dammit.”

 

“Lance, please don’t –.”

 

He groaned and sank onto a kitchen chair.

 

“I’m not counting,” Sharon said. “This isn’t the Inquisition, but it’s just not like you to swear.”

 

“Am I taking the Lord’s name in vain? No? Well, when I do you can start complaining.”

 

“You said Goddammit. And for God’s sake.”

 

“Stop quibbling. They’re only words.”

 

The Lord’s name was only a word? Sharon pulled an apron off the hook behind the door and put it on, tying the sash in a careful bow.

 

“I do want to help you, Lance.” She hardly ever wore aprons and had only put this one on now to give herself time to think what to say next. Wearing an apron made her feel like someone else, like her mother-in-law, the silent and long suffering Helen. But Sharon did not know how to be silent and the suffering she felt now – vicariously for Lance but also for herself as she tried to figure out why her simple sweet husband had turned peculiar – this suffering would not be kept down.

 

She smoothed the front of the apron with the flat of her hand. “You said you have a lot on your mind. Can you tell me?”

 

“You’ll find out when the time’s right.”

 

“Is this something you’re working on with Joel?”

 

“What makes you say that?”

 

“A guess.”

 

“Don’t go blaming things on him.”

 

“What’s to blame, Lance? I’m just wondering if whatever it is you have on your mind, if it includes him.”

 

Lance nodded.

 

Sharon’s heart sank. “We’re not moving to El Cajon, are we?”

 

“No.”

 

Thank the Lord.

 

“Lovey said she saw you coming out of the Inn yesterday afternoon.”

 

“And? And? If this isn’t the Inquisition, what is it? Don’t I have a right to conduct business at the Inn or anywhere else I like?”

 

She ran the tap and filled the kettle. The stove’s electric pilot clicked and clicked and finally lighted. She tried to organize her thoughts to explain what troubled her in a way that would not set him off. She spooned coffee into the filter of the coffee maker.

 

“I know you, Lance, and I know when you get jumpy like this it means something’s on your mind. I’m your wife, Lance.” She stood behind him and rested her cheek on the top of his head. “I love you. Don’t keep me out.”

 

She was thinking it might be her fault. She just had to try harder to be a better wife. There was a burned-on spot of tomato soup the size of a quarter on the back burner. She had cleaned the refrigerator the day before and now she needed to find time for the stove. And the dryer was full of clean clothes. Scrub, fold, sweep, wash…there was no end to it. Lovey called it housekeeping monkey-mind. White mind-noise to keep from thinking about what really bothered her. She replayed what she knew about the affairs of the CCC, walked her thoughts through every scheme she could imagine her husband and Joel thinking up together. If Joel were involved, it had to be grandiose. Joel never did anything in a small way. But if it were Joel’s scheme with Lance just tagging along, she did not think her husband would be so tense.

 

“It’s after six. Do you think I could have some breakfast?”

 

Sharon wondered if the Supreme Court would approve a marriage contract if the terms were honestly stated? Secret back room deals, meals on demand, scour, sweep…

 

“Sure,” she said. “Bacon and eggs?”

 

“French toast.”

 

Copyright © 2012 by Drusilla Campbell. All Rights Reserved.

 

Click here to read Part 33 of Sweet Thyme Baby

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