What’s That Sweetie?
What’s That Sweetie?
Pulling weeds was hard work. It’s no wonder Gerald never did it. His hands had a million tiny cuts. They stung from dirt and sweat. He gingerly grabbed the handle of the fridge to open it, and looked in.
Nothing. Well, a few things. But nothing.
“Hey, Hun? Where’s the lemonade?”
Gerald moved the milk gallon aside, and an old carton of wontons, and saw the pitcher of lemonade hiding. It was almost empty.
“Never mind! Got it!”
He pulled it out and set it on the counter. The cabinet door above the sink was open. There were no cups. They were all dirty. And they were all the sink, with the rest of the dishes. He took one off the top and turned on the faucet. He couldn’t get the cup under the water. The pile of dishes was too high. So he wet a dirty rag and wiped it out instead. He inspected the inside. It looked clean.
Gerald took his half glass of lemonade into the living room and set it on the edge of the coffee table. He picked up the pile of clothes laying on the couch and tossed them into a neat pile on the ground, and sat.
It was noon. Which meant Judge Judy was on TV. Gerald despised Judge Judy.
“Hey, Hun! Judge Judy is on,” shouted Gerald, “self-righteous bitch,” he mumbled. He took a sip of his lemonade and swished it around his mouth. The sugar clung to his teeth. He took another sip.
Twenty minutes later the phone rang. Gerald could hear it coming from the living room but didn’t know where. He rummaged around the coffee table, picking up newspapers and old soup bowls and spoons until he found it.
“Hello, who’s this?”
Gerald looked at his watch. Mud streaked across the face. He tucked the phone to his shoulder and licked his thumb to wipe it off.
“Uh huh. Yep. Okay. See you then,” said Gerald.
Gerald hung up the phone and held it to his chest. “Hun! It’s the nurse! I have to be there a half hour early! We have to get ready.”
Gerald put the phone back on the coffee table and picked up his glass of lemonade. The sugar had settled to the bottom. The last sip was always his favorite sip. He swirled it around inside his mouth again and brought the cup to the kitchen. He put it back on the pile in the sink.
The light in the hallway leading to the bathroom was out. Gerald made a mental note of needing to replace it. The pictures that hung on the wall were crooked. He stopped to straighten his favorite one. It was the picture from their anniversary Cruise. They bought matching Byzantine gold necklaces in Saint Thomas that trip. He looked good in that picture. There was a little weight in his belly and shoulders back then.
“Hey, Hun? What about wearing that blue dress from the cruise? The weather is beautiful today. I think you ought to match the weather.”
Gerald turned on the faucet to wash his hands. The drain clogged with old toothpaste and shaving cream. The sink quickly began to fill. The water turned muddy. The tiny cuts on his hands felt cold exposed to the air. He shut off the water and shook his hands, wiping them on his pants after.
“So what do you say? Blue dress? Devil in the blue dress? I love that blue dress on you. It’s in the closet in the office, yeah?”
There were three hangers and two dresses hanging in the closet — the pale yellow dress from Bill’s confirmation. And the blue one from the cruise. He took the blue one off the hanger and closed the closet door.
The bedroom was barren. The bed against the wall was without sheets, just a comforter on an exposed mattress and pillowcases that had begun to yellow. The nightstand had a couple of full cans of Coca Cola and wadded tissue papers. The hardwood floors were dusty enough to show footprints. And they led to two places. The prints followed from the door to the bed. And they led to an old dress form that stood on a wobbly TV tray in the corner of the room. It was Maryellen’s dress form wearing her wedding dress. She used that dress form to make that wedding dress. And the confirmation dress. And the blue dress she wore on the cruise. Gerald laid the blue dress on the bed.
“Let’s get you out of this stuffy wedding dress, Hun.”
Gerald bunched up the bottom of the dress and pulled it off the form. He laid it neatly on the bed, careful not to wrinkle it, before grabbing the blue dress.
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