“Together, they peeled the urine soaked sheet from the child’s bed. He glanced at her in the 3 am moonlight and felt a familiar stirring. Perhaps… perhaps there were still some Frosted Mini Wheats in the kitchen cupboard?”
“She knelt to switch on the portable wet vac, which began sucking up the cat puke. ‘Should I pick up more bread on my way home tonight?’ he asked, barely audible over the spot cleaner’s rhythmic hum.”
“How about I pick him up from daycare today, hit the grocery store, and pick something up for dinner?” he asked, the cel phone cradled against his ear as he left the office. The reply was swift and urgent, exuding a raw, passionate, primal heat he hadn’t heard in years- “Thank you.”
He quickly brushed and flossed his teeth and popped an Advil to quell the dull ache in his lower back sustained from carrying the wailing child several blocks home from the neighborhood park. He entered the bedroom, pausing for a moment to gaze at the impossibly graceful arc of her neck and shoulder in the flickering light of the television. The low rumbling snore indicated that he was too late, so he decided to watch a rerun of Brooklyn 99 and call it a night.
Warmed by the crackling blaze fed by 10 years worth of old tax documents and employment contracts, they worked their through the last bottles of the cheap wine and languidly scrolled through realtor.com
“How long do you think we have?” he whispered, glancing into the living room. “He’s on the iPad, playing that Lego game,” she replied, “We have at least twenty minutes.” They moved quickly, fervently to the shadowy recesses of the walk-in pantry. With animalistic grunting, they tore the wrapping from the last of the Oreos and stuffed them into their mouths. Their eyes locked, wide and dark and wet with satisfaction, and they knew they would need to brush their teeth so their son would never uncover their secret.
“Her trembling fingers quickly unbuttoned the tiny mother of pearl buttons of her crisp white blouse, her bosom heaving as she gasped. She took the garment in her hand and threw it into the washing machine, setting it on Delicate. She had a faint glimmer of hope that perhaps the peanut butter stain would not set in, but in her heart of hearts, she knew better.” – Harlequin Romance For Parents.
“Don’t stop now! You’re so close, you’ve almost got it!” she whispered hoarsely. Beads of warm sweat dripped down his brow and back as he strained with the effort. “I’m sorry, sorry, I just need a break,” he grunted. Her leg spasmed, sending a cascade of tiny wooden pegs skittering across the well worn living room floor. They swore, lying only to themselves, that this would be the last time they bought a bookcase from IKEA.
“What’s that smell? Cookies?” she asked, dropping her purse on the table. “Yeah, I just remembered the school bake sale tomorrow. I found your mother’s recipe and made a few dozen. I also touched up the paint on the hallway trim, that spot that you said was bothering you,” he replied, walking out of the kitchen and placing a freshly made vodka gimlet in her hand. “Hold on, let me get the sheets out of the dryer.” He smiled, and she knew that tonight she would do something she didn’t quite enjoy doing, but knew that he wanted… tonight she would be hemming those new jeans of his.
They stumbled home, senses still reeling from the perfect wine, the exquisite dinner, the soft, hushed, flirting conversation illuminated by warm, enveloping candlelight. Breathing in the cool night air, they smiled at each other and felt, for a moment, like they had that first night many years ago. “Could you..?” he whispered, motioning downward. She reached deep into his pocket, grabbing the keys. Opening the door, they were immediately greeted by the haggard face of the sitter glaring at them as the decidedly awake children ran screaming around her, wielding lightsabers. Handing his wife the doggy bags, he realized, with sinking horror, that he had totally forgotten to stop and get cash.
She slid into the warm, candlelit bath, the aroma of lavender bubbles filling her senses with pure pleasure. The house was, at last, devoid of the sounds of protesting voices and plastic toy cacophony, replaced with the soothing melody from a favorite album murmuring to her from the next room. Sinking even deeper into the dark ocean of the old porcelain tub, she reached a slick, dripping arm out to grasp the washcloth, wipe her face, and slowly realize that someone had definitely blown their nose on it the day before and not put it into the goddam hamper.
Rinsing the steaming, sudsy water from her long, slick hair, she ran the rough sponge across his back. Their bodies were intertwined in the tiled shower, and she remembered why she had been so insistent that they chose such a large, luxuriant showerhead. Arching her back away from him, she lathered her left leg and attempted a complicated yoga position to run the razor up her calf. She emitted a muffled gasp of shock as the curtain was ripped aside to reveal the small child perched on the potty, demanding to be wiped. Hand clamped to the now bleeding leg, she watched as he leapt from the shower, toothbrush still clenched in his teeth, and wondered if it really was their carpool driving day.
“My darling, my angel, my everything, you look so wonderful tonight, PUT THAT DOWN, I can’t believe how lucky I am to have you in my life, CUT IT OUT. You are my sun, my moon, DO NOT SPIT THAT OUT SO HELP ME, my stars, my everything. I want to kiss your eyelids, your neck, EAT SOME CARROTS OR NO DESSERT, your shoulders, NO I AM NOT KIDDING JUST TRY ME, your lips. I cannot imagine my life without, OK THAT’S IT, THREE MINUTES TIME OUT NOW, you.”
Their eyes met across the grassy field. A shy smile, a subtle wave. They approached the other couple near the fountain, hearts racing with anticipation. “Do you think they’d be into it?” she whispered to her spouse, trying to appear not overly eager. It had been months since the last time, and they both craved that feeling of connection again. Just as she was about to pose the question to the strangers, however, she heard a loud wail behind her. Turning to look, she saw her child whacking their child on the head with the sand pail. She knew, in that moment, that there would be no playdate.
“So, like this?” he murmured, his hands fumbling with the soft silky red ribbon. “Almost, just, wait, just let me do it. Did you get the batteries?” she replied, brushing the hair from her eyes. “What? No, I thought you did.” he whispered back. “I don’t think it’s going to fit in there. Try a different one. Hurry up!” With a frustrated groan, he stacked his poorly wrapped present atop the pile beneath the tree and decided that next year, the kid was just getting cash.