Dani runs her hand against the grain of the old dining room table she inherited from her grandmother, a table that has shrunk progressively every year as she and Cecil removed leaves and pushed the ends together. Years ago, it had been the opposite: As the children were born they’d wrestled the old table open, each of them tugging at either side until there was a gap sufficient to accommodate first one leaf, then two, then, finally, three.
Dani sighs deeply. Cecil doesn’t appear to notice: He’s reading the newspaper, breathing heavily through his mouth, his elbows holding down the corners of the paper so that the fan blowing hot air behind him doesn’t rustle the pages. Cecil’s elbows perpetually hold two triangles of smudged ink. Yesterday, the number twenty-seven was inked on Cecil’s left elbow. All that day, as she waxed a spotless floor and wiped down counters already clean, she thought on that number. As she tried to assign meaning to a random number stamped on her husband’s elbow, she realized something. “I’m bored, Cecil,” she says now.
Cecil frowns and lifts his elbow to examine it. “Don’t get all fuzzled up, Dani. It’s not good for your heart.”
“I can’t stand it. Sitting here doing nothing at all. I need…I need kids in my life again.”
Cecil folds the newspaper neatly then roots in his back pocket and produces his handkerchief, neatly folded and pressed. This he dips into his coffee before rubbing it against his elbows one at a time.
“What’s this about, Dani?”
“David called. Leesa wants her parents to take the kids for both weeks.”
“I thought we were splitting…”
“Leesa thinks that would be traumatic for the kids to have to move midway through.”
“Traumatic how?” Cecil laughs. “We live twenty minutes apart.”
“I don’t know,” Dani says. “Traumatic is living with Leesa’s parents for fourteen days.”
“Why can’t they just come here for the entire time?”
Dani makes a face. “You know Leesa.”
Cecil nods. “I do.” He reaches across the table and takes his wife’s hands. “Maybe it’s time for an adventure.”
“Let’s go on a cruise. Then, if we like it, we’ll sell this old house and buy ourselves a little boat. We’ll travel the world, Dani.”
She laughs. “I’ve never seen you this excited, Cecil.”
“I’ve wanted to do this for a long time.”
“Let Leesa’s parents have the kids as long as they want.”
“I don’t know, Cecil.”
“Think on it, Dani. We’ll be the cool grandparents. The ones who live on a boat.”
Dani ponders this for a moment. “I wouldn’t even know how to get started…”
“I already bought tickets. Again he reaches into a back pocket, producing this time an envelope. We leave on the twenty-seventh.”
Dani smiles and rubs her hand across the grain of the table once more.
Kelly Garriott Waite on Google+ For the Scriptic.org prompt this week, I gave Michael this prompt: “What would you give up.” The prompt I received was “She felt disappointed that she had not been chosen.” Michael: What would you give up?