Second Monday of Prah 2.0 = second fiction piece. And the unveiling of its official logo. Behold:
Ready, ready, ready. Clear the set … anddddddd ACTION:
She was driving the car and describing to him the new recipe for barbecue sauce she was going to try this weekend. He was checking his phone. She turned on the radio. He turned off the radio.
“What the hell is wrong with you?” she pleaded.
“You turn it up so high, my ears feel like cotton balls when I get out of this car.”
“We can turn it down, just turn it back on.”
“No, I need some quiet.”
“Is that my cue to shut up?”
“Why are you making this so hard?”
“Why am I making this so hard? Me?”
“Unreal,” she said as she gripped the steering wheel even harder. She was driving his mom’s ancient Volvo that had became Tom’s ancient Volvo. She had offered to drive to give Tom a break from his two hours-both-ways commute every weekday, but he seemed to begrudgingly hand her the keys.
He was glad Faye was driving. He was starting to feel a steering wheel in his palms in his sleep. He didn’t want to be so antagonistic about the radio, but he could not stand to hear another innate Top 40 hit. Even hearing Faye talk about barbecue sauce was better.
“You can talk, I don’t care,” he said.
“Oh, thanks, I can talk now? What is this, the 17th century?”
“Not what I meant!” he shrilled.
She didn’t mean to nitpick him like that. She was still upset he had refused to leave his Blackberry at home. This trip would set him back two days work, he had said, and still needed to be able to send emails. But he had been the one to suggest the trip. He was the one who had to convince her to come originally. But now she was glad to leave the city. The day was overcast, but the shore would be sunny and lovely. The shore would fix everything.
Why did he think going to the shore would be a good idea? He always gets swept up in those Travel Channel destination shows and sees and beach and crumbles. He suggested it to Faye in one of those moments of weakness. It had been before he had lost the Ruffio case.
She rolled down her window to the sun trying to peck its way through the clouds.
“Do you have to put your window down? That’s what the A/C is for,” he said.
“It’s a nice day.”
“You call this nice?”
“You’re making this so hard,” he nearly yelled.
“Because I want to have my window down?”
“Because you never listen to anyone.”
“I never listen? I never listen??” she steamed back.
She had listened to him practice for the Ruffio case for weeks. Months. He had demanded her attention. She had given him feedback and edited him as he paced the den and spoke. When he lost the case, he had blamed her. She told herself it was displaced anger, but when she had brought it up time and time again, he never apologized for it.
He knew what she was referring to. She had listened. A lot. And then he had blamed her when he lost the case. She hadn’t really listened, he had said. She didn’t really care, he had said. She had dragged him away from his work for dinner parties and exhibit openings, he had said. And now she kept bringing it up and every time she did, he would grow more and more silent. It wasn’t that he didn’t want to apologize, but it had been so long now. To apologize now was admitting an even larger sin than before, one that has grown with time with the lack of a previous apology.
She had violently rolled the window back up and whipped on her sunglasses, even though it was still cloudy. She could feel her eyes moistening.
He could see her eyes moistening behind her glasses. She had never cried about this before. Why now? Why now during their weekend getaway?
She crept into her silent insolent mode. He didn’t want to talk? Fine. She wouldn’t talk all weekend. She had plenty of books to read and recipes to try and imaginary people to talk to. He could talk to his Blackberry. See if that answered back. See if that listened.
She steered over the gravel driveway to the shore house. She shifted the car into park and turned the key back in the ignition, opened her door, and took her bags out of the backseat.
He remained in his seat. He opened his door, but sat still in the passenger seat. He watched her turn the key in the house door, bump it open with her slender hips and walk in. The screen door smacked the frame as it closed.
“I’m sorry,” he said to no one. “I’m sorry.”
He looked up over the roof of the house and saw rays of evening sun make its way from behind unrelenting clouds.