Here's more Greener Grass. You can find the rest of the story in my right sidebar under I Like To Write.
Dave sat on the edge of the bed with his hands between his knees. He needed to open the blinds. He needed to brush his teeth. He needed to start pouring cereal and milk for the kids. They'd be up soon.
It'd been a whole day since Tamara had called. He'd expected her back by now. He'd thought she would let herself in quietly and slip into bed with him, pressing her body against his and murmuring how sorry she was, how she'd missed him. That he'd sulk for a while, and then let her tease him into slow, languid sex. That it'd be something she'd look back on as her little Escape. Her little Adventure. Possibly her Mistake.
And then they'd go on like they had before.
Which wasn't spectacular. It wasn't an amazing, fun-filled life. Certainly not what he'd planned for himself. But he had a wife and three kids and managed to fit in some golf. He was relatively respected at work.
His normal life–it was a lot better than this shit. Than not knowing where Tamara was and having to explain to the kids that she was on a short vacation to clear her head.
He pounded his thigh lightly with his fist. What the hell was she trying to prove, taking off like that? Did she expect them to understand? To muddle through without her and then fall gratefully at her feet when she came back?
Dave stood and rubbed his hands over his bald scalp. He jerked open the blinds and had to duck away from the sun that surged in.
When he turned, Joshua was standing in the doorway holding his mangy stuffed giraffe, Freddy. His eyes were wide, his body humming with energy. Dave had to laugh at him. The kid vaulted from bed at 6:30 and was ready to take on the world, not stopping until he finally gave into sleep late at night. He exhausted Dave, but, just the same, he was a riot.
"C'mon, bud, let's get you some breakfast," he said.
"Waffles, daddy. Okay? Waffles!"
Dave said, "We'll see what we can do." How the fuck did you even make waffles, was what he wanted to know.
In the kitchen, he brewed strong coffee, then dug through the freezer for Eggos. Finding none, he asked Joshua, "How does mom do it? What does she use?"
Joshua was already in front of the TV, mesmerized by some cartoon.
"Hey," Dave snapped. "Did you hear me? I asked, 'how does mom make waffles?"
Joshua turned slowly, still half immersed in Spongebob. "I don't know," he mumbled. "Bisquick, I think."
Bisquick. Of course.
He was whisking Bisquick with an egg and a cup of milk when Caitlyn and Eli tumbled in and took their places on the family room floor. "Are you making pancakes, Daddy?" Caitlyn asked.
Dave strode over and plucked her thumb from her mouth. In it went again. Always wiggling around in there when she was sleepy. "Waffles," he said.
Her face broke into a thousand pieces. "But I want pancakes, Dad! Pancakes!"
"We're having waffles," Dave said. He pulled her thumb from her mouth.
It was all Tamara's fault, this thumb-sucking bullshit. She let the kids do whatever they wanted for comfort's sake.
Once Dave had returned to the kitchen, Caitlyn popped her thumb between her lips again.
He shook his head and scooped batter onto the waffle iron. He glanced up at the clock, wondering how much time he could steal to check his email and make a few calls. Just as he was reaching to unclip his blackberry from his belt, the land line rang.
His first inclination was to jump for it. But he stood, back against the counter, letting it ring, twice, three times, four. Then he strolled over, checked the screen, which flashed a number with a 718 area code, and answered.
"Hi Dave," Tamara said, a little breathlessly.
He forced himself to take several deep breaths. "Hey Tamara," he said, casual-like. "What's up?"
"I'm in New York."
"Well," he turned away from the living room and faced the window. He saw his neighbor, Craig, pouring fertilizer into a green broadcast spreader. That guy was something else. Craig and his lawn. To Tamara, he said, "Well, good for you."
She sighed. He heard it, her sigh. She had no right to sigh. "You don't have to be sarcastic," she said.
Dave gripped the phone hard, smelled the waffles burning. "What would you prefer, Tamara?" he said. "Because if I'm not sarcastic, I'm going to yell my head off. So, it's up to you. Either way. But I cannot be all sweet about this and pretend I think you need this, that this is good in any way whatsofuckingever for our family."
She sighed again.
He wanted to hang up on her bad. And he would've. He would've. If she hadn't then said, "I know. I'm sorry."