The big iron skillet sat simmering. She was trying the Shakshuka with Kale and Goat Cheese recipe she saw in Kinfolk magazine. It looked delicious and healthy. The kids would take a few dips and then go for cereal. It was fun and worth the effort. Nobody seemed to care but she did. She tipped the wine glass and sat it back on the granite counter top. A nice simple white, clean crisp and just a bit sweet. It was late in the morning on a Saturday and she had not noticed when he left. It must have been early. He went into the office on Saturdays often so she did not worry about feeding him. ” It’s ready, come and eat.”
” I already ate this morning. I am not hungry.”
” Oh, come on give this a try. I used organic tomatoes and that goat cheese you love from the farm store.”
” Farm store. What farm store?” As she entered her mother couldn’t help but see his eyes. She was tall for her age and was almost as tall as her.
” The one we went out to lunch at last fall. When we drove forever and had to use your phone to find it.”
” Oh, yea the one that smelled like cow poop.”
” It did not.”
” It did too. It was a farm mom that was the point of going. It smelled like poop.”
” Ok, enough get the toast and grab a plate.”
” Why use a plate just dip it out of the skillet.”
” Really, get a plate.”
To late she had already started working on her second bite.” Where is dad?”
” He must be at the office. I did not hear him go out this morning. Did you?”
” No not really it must have been early. Is he coming to my basketball game this afternoon?”
” I think so I texted him with the schedule. I will text him again and see if he responds.”
” Ok, great its been a while since he has been to one.”
The phone vibrated on the table. He did not look. He tucked in his scarf and headed for the door. He wore jeans a black pullover and black boots. He glanced over. She smiled. He smiled back. As he walked out onto the sidewalk he pulled up the collar on his dark wool coat and looked for a taxi.
She finished what Shakshuka she could and put the rest into the refrigerator. It was now close to noon and she checked her phone. Nothing. He usually came home at about this time. She reached for the bottle and emptied it into her glass. It was quiet. Too quite but she had come to expect that lately. He worked. He worked all the time. The kids were always busy with friends practices and school activities. She had her own career and friends. She had what a lot of her friends said they all wanted. She heard the front door open and close.
” Is that you?”
” Yes it’s me.”
” Did you have a good morning? I have some leftovers if you are hungry. It’s a new recipe I tried.”
” No, I am not that hungry. I may get something later.” He pulled off his coat and started looking thru the mail on the counter. ” Anything important going on today?”
” Did you get my text. We have a basketball game this afternoon.”
” No I didn’t look at the text. I was busy. Is this a must attend game?”
” What makes it must attend? It just one of her games and she asked if you were coming.”
” I don’t know. I have seen a few already.” He walks to the bar fills a glass and then sits.
She walks past the counter and into the sitting room puts her glass on the table and slowly sits. ” Is there a reason you can’t make it to this game? You already went into work and I don’t have anything else for this afternoon.”
” I got a call from my mom yesterday.”
” Did you talk to her?”
” Yes, we talked. She mentioned that she went to the doctor and they asked her back for more tests.”
” Did she say what it was?”
” No she just said tests. You know how she is she’s not going to say much. Maybe you could give her a call and find out more detail.”
” Me call? You think she’s going to tell me before she tells you? I’ve tried to keep the communication open between your mother and the kids but she has to put in some effort too.”
He takes a sip. “Yea , maybe I will try to call again and see what I can find out.”
” Do you want me to say anything to the kids?”
” No not yet. It may be nothing. She would let me know if it were serious.”
His mother had always been friendly to a point. She did tell her once that she was pretty and happy that she was marrying her son. She always sent birthday cards to the kids and called on Christmas. The kids always made an effort she made sure of that. They loved grandma and of course thought she could do no wrong. ” I will put a call in too. She will know why but I still want to know what she may be facing.”
The gym was on the small side used primarily by the girls teams. They sat on the sixth row with their backs against the wall. Only a few people sat scattered on both sides of the court mostly parents or grandparents. He checked his phone a couple of times while the girls warmed up with jump shots. She was wearing his old number 5. It made him smile because she had told him she picked it out because he had told her all of his stories a thousand times. She was starting at forward and played in the post depending on how they matched up with the other team. She had his shot. She had his walk. She had his aggressive on court hustle. The ball found her. She would dive to get it always. He wondered how far she might take basketball. She was developing one hell of a game. He was obviously biased. He was also not blind.
” She has been working on her outside shot.”
He watched her arch it up nice and high with a flick of the wrist at the end.
” Did you hear me? I said she has been working on her shot.”
He look at his phone again. “What? Oh yea I can see that. It looks like the other team is pretty big. She might get doubled a lot in this game. Let’s see how she handles it.”
Twenty two points seven rebounds and six assists. The outside shot was falling and even with the double team she couldn’t be stopped.
” Nice arch on your shot tonight.”
” I was in the zone.” They were walking back to their building against the biting wind.
” The zone. You have a zone? Hell in his day he practically invented the zone.
” Yes I have a zone. How many points did I score? I didn’t look at the board in the locker room before we left.”
” Twenty two seven and six with two-floor burns.”
” Really? It didn’t seem like that many. I think I scored like thirty a couple of times this year already.”
He didn’t remember seeing any of those games. He didn’t remember much from this game either. His buzz had worn off and he was looking forward to sitting next to the fireplace with something to keep his toes warm.
” Honey I think you did that three times already this year. I have all of your sheets on my computer.”
” Of course you do mom. What’s for dinner I’m starving?”
They were entering the kitchen and she looked into the refrigerator. “I could do some fresh pasta and a salad.”
” Sounds yummy. Thanks mom.”
He looked at his phone again. He wouldn’t be eating dinner at home tonight. ” Don’t worry about me. I may need to go out.”
” Is it work? Do you have a meeting on Saturday night?
” Yea, it’s work .” He didn’t even take his coat off. ” I will try to give you a call and keep you updated.” He felt in his pocket to make sure he had his keys and pulled the door handle.
She stood at the counter slicing green onions. It was quiet again.
She didn’t think she would see him until after she went to bed.
Why did all of her friends think she had it all?
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