20 April, 2019
“Honey?” Tabitha called out from bed. When she had groped across the bed in the early sunlight and felt his absence, her eyes popped open. Eddie never got up first. There was no light under the bathroom door. Sitting up, she called louder.
“Eddie? Honey!” And she was up, pulling on her long silk bathrobe. Where was he? Two steps across the room, Tabitha felt regret smack her across the face. “Ohhh…” The sound escaped like a groan and tapered off. “That fight.”
When they got home from dinner with friends last night, a calm discussion about the varying political views expressed had turned into personal attacks. It devolved into commentary on reproductive health and a blast about having or not having children. Tabitha sat on the edge of the bed and rubbed her forehead. Did it matter? It was just conversation. Heated conversation, but still.
She looked at the clock. 6:30. He was up a full hour before normal. Caressing the rumpled bedclothes on his side of the mattress, she remembered they’d gone to bed without saying “I love you.” She listened to the weight of the silence, took a deep breath, and stood. Maybe he was downstairs. They should talk about that fight. She’d make breakfast, turn on the coffee, they’d realize all was well. Megan and Ben just got them riled up last night. That’s all.
At the bottom of the stairs, she noticed the front door wasn’t fully closed. Had he gone out? She opened it and stepped outside, clutching her robe tight against the cool spring breeze. “Eddie?” There was no paper lying beside the hedge, so he must have gotten it already. Turning to go back inside, she noticed his SUV was missing from the driveway.
“What…” He LEFT? She raced upstairs and flung open the closet, rifling through hangers, trying vainly to determine if anything was gone. She couldn’t tell. She pulled open dresser drawers, yanking one so hard it came loose and crashed to the floor, scattering T-shirts and boxers in a broad pile. “No.” Tabitha was in a panic. “No! It was a simple fight. None of it matters!” She was in a tailspin.
“Coffee.” Coffee to clear her mind, to help her think clearly. She headed back downstairs, treading lightly on weak legs. Downstairs, her knees sorted themselves out so she wasn’t a walking earthquake as she filled the carafe and dumped it into the reservoir of the coffee maker. Last night’s chocolate mousse sat on the counter with a spoon in it, condensation forming on the cool bowl. He'd been in here.
She opened the cabinet and brought down a coffee filter and the can of Folgers. Opening the lid… “Ah, crap.” There were a few loose coffee grounds in the bottom of the can, but not enough for one cup, let alone a whole pot. “Crap!” She was desperate for a mug of sanity.
Out of nowhere, tears filled her eyes as she scanned the kitchen. Without thought, she dug into the leftover mousse. Hunching over the bowl on the counter, Tabitha gave in to emotion, sobbing in huge waves until it was all out and she hung her head weakly, shaking with hyperventilation and a few whimpers.
The back door to the kitchen opened. “Sweetie? Tab, what’s wrong?” Eddie put an arm around her as she clung to him howling with relief.
“Eddie! Where were you?”
“I couldn’t sleep, so I got up to start the coffee for you and found that we’re out. I went to get some more.” He pointed at a bag he’d placed on the counter, then held up a to-go tray with two hot coffees and a bag of pastries. “Thought we should have some while we wait for our own to brew.”
“Huh? Hah! Hahaha!” Tabitha’s tears turned into laughter as she hugged her husband and took one of the to-go cups.
Eddie smiled, watching. As her laughter slowed, he touched her cheek. “I’m sorry about last night. Ben and Megan just got me going!”
“I know, honey, me too.”
Thank you for visiting my #AtoZChallenge! My theme is "Audience Participation" (read about it, here) and now it is your turn. Each day will be a new story based on suggestions from your comments. Suggest anything: a word, scenario, character, location... I will be keeping a list of suggestions, so if yours isn't used tomorrow, it may show up later.
Today's post was inspired by the prompt "mousse", suggested by J Lenni Dorner (of Operation Awesome), given in comments on my K post (here).