Posted by: patti | December 5, 2008

Thursday Night (Fiction Friday)

Thursday night is the one school night Matt and I are allowed to watch TV.  We can watch The Cosby Show and Family Ties.  And if Mom loses track of time, or if the phone rings, she’ll forget and we’ll get to watch Cheers, too.  Just before 8, homework not quite finished but close enough, I clatter down the stairs and hop into Dad’s empty chair.

I rock and tilt the chair just enough to enjoy it but not enough that they’ll tell me to stop.

When the music for Cosby starts, Matt drops the controls to the Atari and rolls himself across the room to the big TV.  He lands on his side, propped up on his elbow to watch.

“Hey!” Dad calls, “I was winning!” but Matt just laughs.

Dad walks the floor on his knees to Mom, kisses her.  She smiles, and he turns to watch the TV, too.  He sits on the floor, Indian-style, leaning his back against the sofa.  Mom sits as she always does, her feet tucked under her.  Her shins touch his shoulders, her hand rests on his hair.

I stop rocking the chair now.  I don’t want to disturb this.  I don’t want any of us to move.  I don’t want any of this to change.  Ever.

Dad tips his head back, dislodging Mom’s hand.  “I love you,” he whispers.

She bends down, kisses his forehead.  She’s watching the TV, but she’s smiling now.

Dad leaves his head tipped back, touching her shins.  His eyes are busy, like they are searching her face, waiting, looking for something from her.  I tense up, waiting, too.

“Do you love me?”  he asks.  It comes out louder than I think he wanted it to.

Mom makes a tsk noise with her tongue and sighs.  She pulls her legs away from him, slides off the couch.  “Don’t ask that.  It makes you sound weak.”

Dad leans forward and studies his fingers, spread now on his knees. Mom disappears into the kitchen, carrying her empty glass.

Knees popping, Dad stands too.  But he isn’t following her, he’s looking at me, sitting in his chair.  “Get up.”

I slide onto the floor and crawl, elbows and knees, to flop next to Matthew.

“Put your feet down.  I can’t see,” Dad snaps.

I roll over to look at him.  His mouth is a thin line.  He looks tired, sad.

In the movie of my life, will this be a defining moment?  Is this where the camera pans away and sees me looking sad, too?  Or, if not sad, do I look determined, like I decided right now that I will never get married?

When I’m a mother, I’ll have girls, lots of girls.  Beautiful little girls with hair that is a real color, strawberry red or chestnut brown or butter yellow, not the dingy dishwater on my head.  Sweet little girls with green green eyes, who laugh and give you great big hugs and watch all the TV they want.  And I will take every one of those little girls on my lap every night, hold her tight to me, and whisper in her ear.


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