Bed of Nails
When I swerve into the driveway and the tires squeal like children on a rollercoaster, I take out the mailbox; the pretty one with the floral pattern and lime green paint and our last name on it. Oh. Woops. I leave the car in it’s jagged position on the driveway and push the door shut. I don’t give it much effort so it doesn’t slam shut so much as it lightly clicks into place.
I walk into the door and the house smells of sex and lies. Makes me wish my tie was a noose. I undo the knot and let it fall to my side. As I trek my way through the foyer and up the stairs I pull my shirt out of my waistband and undo the buttons. At the top of the steps I kick off my shoes and toss my belt away.
It’s like laying on a bed of nails, ya know? You expect it to hurt a lot but it’s really only numb.
I walk down the hall into the nursery. I hear her voice call my name in the kind of voice that indicates repetition. Oh. I didn’t realize she was home.
Little Ben is sound asleep. The radio hums its melodies in the background. Ben only can fall asleep with music. I look into the crib for a moment and feel a frog take residency in my throat, and I sigh. I pick up Ben, wrapped in a blanket and wearing a soft blue hat, and rock the little bundle against my chest.
“Mommy and Daddy sitting in a tree,” I sing under my breath with an absent mind. “K-I-S-S-I-N-G.”
And then Ben opens his eyes with the big baby blue irises that’ll make the girls go crazy when he’s older. The irises that don’t belong to me or his mother. With a sudden shock I’m reminded of what my own mother had said last week when she came to visit.
“God, he sure looks an awful lot like Jimmy, doesn’t he?”
Yes mother. He does look a lot like Jimmy.
I put Ben down. Walk downstairs. My walk is accompanied by a soundtrack of white noise. She’s in the kitchen and she gives me a funny look when I stumble in like a drunk blind man.
“Guess what Jimmy told me at the office today,” I say.
What I see in her eyes after I say that really kills me. Et tu, Brute.
“He feels really bad, Jimmy does,” I continue. “’You got to know’ is what he said to me. You got to know. He just feels awful, so, so awful.”
She says my name but I’ve already turned and walked out the door without my shoes. The Oldsmobile calls my name louder than she does and I listen. The wind curls fingers through my hair like a tender lover. The night sky is caught between that beautiful limbo of dusk and evening when the colors above are vibrant oranges, yellows, reds, and purples. It looks like a fresh watercolor. The air nips but only with gentle love bites. I smile in spite of things.
Nice night for a drive.