Behind the Kitchen Door

kitchen

Sometimes it is only after I have said something to someone that I realize, I actually said nothing at all.

“What?” Harriet asks.

“Huh?”

“You looked like you were going to say something,”

I shake my head. “Sorry, just drunk.”

“Sh!” James snaps.

We all start giggling.

“They are fast asleep,” Harriet consoles James, patting his arm.

He smiles, “remember when we were teenagers, in your mom’s basement, snuck those girls in from Holy Trinity.”

I laugh, quietly. I nod.

“Sh!” Harriet says.

“They made quite a scene when they left, huh?” James says.

I remember, I nod. “Yeah. Well–yeah, they weren’t too happy.” I look at Harriet, almost by accident. James points his beer at me, I cheers it.

I lean back. “And here we are again, this time hiding from your kids.”

“No trinity girls this time, unfortunately,” James says.

Harriet smacks his leg. He pulls her close, kisses her ear. I don’t say anything.

“When are you going to get married and have some kids?” Harriet asks.

I shrug. “I’m not the parenting type, I think I’ll probably just die alone.”

Harriet shakes her head, James grunts and finishes his beer in one, he throws his arm around Harriet.

“Don’t lie, you’re jealous,” he says.

I smile, “Of Harriet? Who wouldn’t be.” They both laugh.

He gets up and pulls open the fridge, gently. He shakes a beer at me, I nod, killing the swill at the bottom of mine. He opens one off the other, it foams.

“Shit!” he holds it over the sink.

“Shhhhh!” Harriet and I say.

There is a noise from the hall. A creak, or maybe a pitter-patter, or both. James stops. He places the beers in the sink, finger to his lips. He starts toward the door. Harriet reaches out and grabs his hand. He pulls it away.

The door closes behind him.

“Carey!” we hear through the door. Then, “what the fuck are you doing out of bed at this time?”

I look at Harriet, she is picking at some plaster on the edge of the kitchen table.

“What did I tell you about leaving your room at this time of night!”

The kitchen door rattles a bit. There is some more noise from behind it; a scuffle, or maybe a pitter-patter, or both.

 

Thanatophobia

parental

Tom sat watching the television, pencil in one hand, notebook on the knee.

ICE CREAM

He wrote at the top of the page in big block letters. He looked back at the screen. The version of himself trod along the street listening to something in his headphones.

The Tom on the couch turned up the volume. The song became more clear.

DAVID BOWIE LIFE ON MARS

He bounced his knee as he watched. It was sudden, as it sometimes is. The version of himself on the television looked up, then, he was flatten. The sound reverberated around Tom’s living room. Tom turned down the volume. He stared at the body of himself, his chest under one wheel. He looked around on the screen for any more clues. He hurried to write BLUE MINI-VAN before the screen went back to home.

“No Potential deaths,” it informed him. He sighed and leaned back into the couch. He closed his eyes a moment before snapping up. He looked at his watch. He picked up his phone. He dialed.

“Carol?”

“Yes?” his wife answered.

“You’re late.”

She sighed on the other end. “I’m often late Tom, I’m a lawyer, we do things.”

“Did you watch your channel this morning?”

His wife breathed into the other end of the phone, frustrated.

“Tom—“

“Did you watch it?”

“I’m hanging up Tom.”

“Carol, how—“ Tom tried, but the line went dead. Tom stood up, fuming.

“Idiot,” he growled to himself. He tried calling a few more times, but Carol didn’t pick up. He texted her: You have to watch it. If you don’t, who knows what could happen. Please, do it for me.

Tom’s phone lit up, ringing. He answered.

“Carol?”

“Tom, seriously? You are texting me while I am driving around to nag me about not checking if I’ll die. That is such hypocrisy!”

“I just want you to be careful,” Tom moaned.

“Look, I’m not going to spend every day obsessing over this, they are possibilities Tom, it says it on the damn box. Just, please, let me have a relaxing drive home bef—AHH!”

Tom’s heart froze. His face went numb.

“Carol?”

“Carol!”

“No, no, no,” Tom groaned, “Carol?”

Carol started breathing into the other end of the phone.

“Tom,” she whispered.

“Carol, oh god, are you okay?”

“I’m messing with you Tom, get a grip, please. I’ll be home in five minutes.”

The line went dead. Tom stared at his phone a moment before throwing it across the room. Not angry, revolted. He turned to the TV.

“One New Potential Death,” It told him. Tom hesitated. Then, he picked up the pencil and notebook and sat down.

He took up the remote, he sighed, he hit play.