Tuesday, June 23, 2009
Brake lights were the road before her. Turned down the radio; sirens wailing, the city’s song. She had too many chores: laundry, grocery store for bread, milk, bakery for son’s birthday cake. Now 12, soon he’d be driving, wanting a car. Seemed like he was just born: headed to the hospital and, yes, stuck in traffic, a sitcom plot. Her husband—now someone else’s—fiddling with the radio as she took measured breaths. But it was always his way of calming her—if he were in pain, he’d stammer, sweat, be completely useless. Stopped on Madonna’s “Like a Virgin”—perfect comedic irony, he showing the slightest smirk. She remembered wondering, was she going to give birth in the car, in traffic, would any of them survive? But they made it; seven hours later, so did her son. Five years later, she came home from work early, found her husband with someone else. Horrified then, she fell to the ground, leaned against a wall as hurried movements, her husband’s and the other woman’s voice spun around her, a slamming door. Later she realized, just part of the comedy. Like the birthday party, when they’d both be there. The car inching along, she repeated, bread, milk, cake, over and over, so not to forget.