They’d met at an office party. His mind lingered on her as he drove home from work in the dark. He’d missed seeing the sunset, the painted sky had long ago melted into the bay. He probably wouldn’t see the sunrise either since he had to be at work early.
Marcy, he thought. She’d be waiting for him when he got home. He’d text messaged her to tell her he’d be late.
Another red light! The Jag in front of him actually stopped this time. He cursed. Slammed on the brakes. The sudden jolt sent his briefcase sliding off the seat. Solidly, it connected with the plastic drink holder. Cold coffee spilled onto his pants. His seats!
He cursed again, wiped feverishly with a sweater he’d found. Stopped for a second when he realized it was Casey’s. She must’ve left it when he went to visit last week. Oh, well. He could send it to the cleaners later. The light changed. The Jag sat. He slammed his hand down hard on the horn. The Jag moved on.
He threw the sweater onto the spotless floorboard with no more thought given to it than to the one who it belonged to.
Marcy, he thought again. Fifteen more minutes and she’d be waiting.
He was going to ask her to marry him tonight. Had the ring in his briefcase. A cool $3000! She’d appreciate it.
Things would be different this time around.
His cell phone vibrated. Traffic had thinned out. There were still five lanes, but no longer the insipidly slow crawl. He braved fishing the phone out of a pocket. It was his ex.
“Yes,” came his agitated greeting. Then in response to some trivial reply, “I went to visit her last week! It’s your turn.”
His blood pressure was rising. “I know I’m her parent but so are you. If you had quit working to take care of her, maybe we wouldn’t be having this debate.”
His concentration broken, he nearly ran up on another vehicle. He swerved hard to the left to avoid hitting it and almost hit someone else. The briefcase went sliding again. He ended the call as abruptly as he’d started it.
Not even the thought of being with Marcy could calm him now. He chose instead to fume about his ex.
She was the one who wanted children. He just went along with the idea to keep her happy. To this day, he didn’t know what went wrong. Yet with two successful parents, their daughter still managed to get in trouble. First drugs, then the boys. They finally just sent her off to a boarding school.
The road narrowed. Streetlights marked an entrance.
He managed to get the house in the settlement. His ex didn’t want it. He pulled up into the circular drive now and stepped out.
He left the forgotten sweater on the floorboard, grabbed his briefcase and climbed the perfectly scored steps eager to see Marcy.
She greeted him just inside the large entry hall with what she claimed to be wonderful news.
He had wonderful news too but decided to put it on hold to hear hers.
Her enthusiasm was contagious. He smiled back. Held her at arms length.
“What is it?” he asked. “What has you beaming?”
“Well, I have to tell you fast,” she said, no longer hid the fact that her briefcase was beside her. “Henry just called and needs me to come look over a proposal with him. But anyway, I took a pregnancy test during lunch today and it came out positive. Isn’t that wonderful? We’re going to be parents!”
She grabbed her coat off a hook, draped it over her arm and kissed him on the cheek. “I’ve got to run though but I left some take-out for you in the microwave. Don’t wait up. I’ll be late.”
She stopped in the doorway. “Oh, I’m sorry. You said you had some news too.”
A flippant wave of the hand, a beautifully feigned smile. “Nothing that could beat that.”
After she left he went back out to his car, dismal. Drove to the nearest cleaners and dropped off the forgotten sweater.
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