Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 - Advanced)
Topic: Empty Nester/Retirement (from work) (09/10/09)
TITLE: No Time Like the Present
By Debra Martinez
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Four fifteen: After sweeping dried mud from her doorway, Bev leans the broom into the corner. As she turns away, the unexpected thwack upsets her more than it should. Leaning to retrieve the fallen tool, she thinks, “Murphy’s Law this early in the morning? “
Scotching the broom firmly in the corner, Bev hurries to the bedroom she shares with her night-shift husband, noting the thermostat on the wall as she passes. Though the latest electric bill is more than she hoped, her boys are upstairs in bed. She backs up and knocks it down a notch, shaking her head at her own ambivalence. “Wet jeans could cool ‘em off,” she thinks as she moves to her next chore.
Generally even-tempered and creative, she absently considers whether her hormones are at fault. She adores her boys and cherishes listening to their hopes and dreams. But lately, every encroachment on her “ordered” household seems an insult. Too many people make too many piles that only one person seems to be addressing. And talking has not helped. “Mars-Venus,” she mutters as she cleans the bath.
Five thirty: Jim, due home soon, hates clutter, so she begins picking up in the den. Cups with straws sticking through plastic tops sit on several surfaces. Shoes are piled just inside the door. Yoga breathing seems to help, but she must force herself not to throw something. “Would a hormone monitor sell well?” she wonders idly.
She fondly remembers her craft room upstairs, the one she claimed after Jeff first left for college. Temporarily back home, his possessions make it impossible to access her space. “I told them they’d better know where they were heading when they hit eighteen!"she laughs. “Guess they showed me.”
Speaking of showing her, Bev remembers the other night, a rare Friday when Jim was off. They had showered, enjoyed dinner together, and planned for an “early night” in their room when one of the boys and a friend had arrived home unexpectedly. Bev hadn’t even known they were there until she came through the kitchen in her silky “early night” robe. Good thing she had heard voices before they caught sight of her. “No way have they made a chaperone schedule,” she thinks, considering again a short trip for two.
Six A.M.: Passing the grand piano that she has moved to accommodate Jeff’s computer area, she is suddenly overcome with hormonal rebellion, a.k.a. righteous indignation. She sits down and belts out a few bars of “Hey, Jude,” finding it oddly satisfying. Calming, she moves on to “Bridge Over Troubled Waters” before returning to her chores.
Six forty-five: In the kitchen, Bev starts Jim’s breakfast while considering her hopes for his retirement. Twelve-hour shifts are taking a toll on the daddy’s health, but college loans on top of vehicle payments make both of them hesitate to take the plunge. “Soon, they boys will pick up their share,” she thinks passionately, weary of thirty-three years of teaching.
Seven A.M.: Needing an attitude adjustment, Beverly prescribes a little pampering to help lift her mood. Thinking of her sister, she plans the rest of her “keep- the- house- quiet- so- Dad- can- sleep Saturday.” Pedicures first, at ten, in those big massaging chairs, sharing female conversation, then a quiet afternoon by herself, doing something she loves. The piano is out, of course, as is the cluttered craft room. But, her laptop is silently waiting, and she has promised herself to keep writing. In fact, that might be the perfect outlet for the frustration she’s feeling.
“I’ll write the boys a letter spelling out how I feel. Then I can let it sit for a while before hitting the delete button. That’s the ticket. And maybe this week’s challenge will be something I can relate to. Last week, I couldn’t think of a thing.”
Seven fifteen A.M.: Bev hears the rumble of Jim’s truck as she places basted eggs on the plate beside his toast and grits. She smiles. Her family’s future may not be clear, but today certainly has promise.
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