Harry is worried about his secret affair being discovered, but his wife is more concerned about showing up the neighbours; by Kimberly Moore.
|Image generated with OpenAI|
Harry watched his wife, Nicole, loading the grocery cart with sixteen pounds of ground sirloin for tomorrow’s yard sale. He had already won the argument. He had been winning the argument for a year, since the last yard sale, but in her illogical universe, losing the argument meant she got what she wanted.
He spoke after some fast math. “We’ve just gone over twelve grand.”
She glanced up from the beef display. “How you exaggerate.”
It wasn’t an exaggeration. The debt was spread over four credit cards, but he had tallied up the electronics, jewelry, clothes, and toys. Twelve thousand dollars’ worth of the finest items available, all in their house, slightly used, and all for sale tomorrow.
“You’ll see,” she said as she moved on to the bratwurst, instead of regular hot dogs that were affordable and probably preferred by the people who would attend a yard sale. “You never trust me, but you’ll see that I’m right.”
“We won’t get what we paid. We’ll be in the red from this.”
“But that bitch won’t think she’s better than us this year.”
Harry didn’t care about the bitch next door who managed to outshine the entire street at last year’s neighborhood event. He remembered well the moment the war began. The bitch, Katie, who they remembered from high school (and she was a bitch then, too, according to Nicole) had wandered into their yard, surveyed their unpopular items, and said nothing for a long time.
Finally, Katie had turned back and said, “I’m glad we’re neighbors. It’s good to have familiar faces next door.”
Later, in bed, Nicole had fumed about the exchange while he replayed it with her. He saw no reason for a new feud. Nicole explained. “She always thought she was better than me. Did you see what she was selling? She did it just to show off how much they make.”
“I think the point was to sell things they didn’t want or weren’t using. Isn’t that why we do this?”
“You never catch nuances. That look she gave our stuff.”
“We didn’t have much to sell this year. Maybe that means we spent our money wisely.”
Nicole hadn’t listened to him and never did when the topic arose. It arose frequently. The boxes began arriving several months ago and Harry came home to new surroundings, all to the delight of their twelve-year-old daughter, Brianne. The delight would end tomorrow when her new things would be scattered across the lawn and sold for less than half their worth.
“Mom said you’d get me another one,” Brianne had argued when he tried to tell her the truth about her state-of-the-art gaming system.
Now he watched the overpriced groceries moving down the conveyor belt predicting Brianne’s rage when she learned her precious electronics were gone forever. Harry wouldn’t have to deal with it directly, though. He would be at the grill all day, cooking meat for the bargain hunters. His view would be blurry in the smoke. Burning cash would be easier and less greasy, but Nicole didn’t find his comments humorous. The yard sale wasn’t funny to anyone.
Except for Lane. This morning when they met at her house before work, as they did every Friday, she had laughed at Nicole’s obsession. She was still sitting on the kitchen island naked, her breath returning to normal when she asked if he was prepared to be a chef Saturday. She joked that she might stop to buy a cheap television.
“Don’t you dare,” he had said, smacking her bare thigh. He smiled now remembering the wrestling match that followed. He loved that about Lane – she was playful in a way Nicole couldn’t manage. It wasn’t funny, however, that Lane might crash his home one day and ruin everything.
Cheating never felt wrong until Nicole found out. The last time he was caught, the remorse floored him like a virus. He would have done anything to erase it, to erase her, to make everything right. As the cash register totaled 428 dollars, he closed his eyes and saw Nicole’s weeping face. How could you do this to me? Here he was, years after swearing off other women, doing the same thing again. The least he could do was tolerate this yard sale revenge plot.
His time with Lane seemed to belong to another life. A lesser but more ideal life. This was real, watching Nicole swipe the credit card to pay for this food they wouldn’t eat, all to make a statement of fake superiority to neighbors that probably never had ill intent against Nicole in the first place. As long as the lives remained separate, he could avoid another wave of massive guilt.
“Are you going to look like that until the sale is over?” Nicole asked while they loaded the trunk and back seat with their purchases.
“I’m going to look like this until the rest of my hair falls out and I wrinkle up and die.”
She continued placing bags in the back seat without comment. When she slammed the door shut, she handed him the keys. “You drive. I hope we’re not late.”
“We’re not.” Softball practice was releasing as Harry drove into the school’s circular drive. From here, he could see Lane’s house. He was careful not to look in that direction very long, but he knew Lane was in her front yard, watching him. He would have to talk to her about this. Brianne was old enough now to ask questions that would start another war with Nicole.
“Hurry!” Nicole yelled from the car. “We’ve got groceries that should be in the fridge!”
Brianne didn’t hurry, but she left her friends and trudged to the car, her head down. She wasn’t looking in the direction of Lane’s house, at least. She opened the door. “Where am I supposed to sit?”
Good question. Harry reached back and moved some bags.
Nicole stopped her daughter. “Don’t squish the bread!”
Brianne was soon lodged between bags and the door, phone in her hand and earbuds isolating her from the conversation, as usual.
Harry had to ask twice to get her attention. “When’s the first game?”
“I already told you.”
“Tell me again.”
She sighed as if answering him required effort. “What days are all my games?”
“Right, you told me. It’s this Tuesday. Sorry, we’ve all had the yard sale on our minds.”
“What’s for dinner?”
Nicole took her phone from her pocket. “I’ll order pizza.”
“We just bought groceries and you’re ordering pizza?” Harry knew he would lose this battle. She was already choosing toppings.
“Anything special on yours?”
He shook his head.
“No peppers!” Brianne shouted as she stuffed her earbuds in again.
“Moving in or moving out?” the pizza delivery girl said while Harry flipped through his wallet for the fifty he knew was hiding.
“It’s complicated,” he answered.
“Yard sale!” Nicole shouted from across the living room where she was attaching more price and ID tags as the neighborhood guidelines required. “Come by tomorrow!”
“Dad, somebody’s asking if you want to borrow their pricing gun and there’s a laughing emoji.”
Harry took his phone from Brianne and put it in his pocket. He didn’t have to look at the screen to know it was Lane. “Don’t get into my phone. You wouldn’t like it if I did that to you.”
“I didn’t! It was in plain view! Don’t take your yard sale rage out on me.” Brianne opened a pizza box and pulled a stringy slice of pepper-free pizza away. “So touchy.”
He would have continued his golden-rule argument with his daughter, but Nicole appeared for the pizza arrival. “I don’t think a pricing gun would help. We have to follow the regulations. But tell them thanks, whoever it was.”
The best response was no response in Lane’s case – she knew the rules. He pictured her giggling as if sending texts during these forbidden hours was a naughty transgression he could spank her for later. She had gone too far. Already, his phone vibrated against his thigh. He knew she was sending a hello followed by a series of question marks. Maybe a WTF thrown in. Somewhere in her thread would be get a sense of humor.
He mulled over the situation with Lane until his pocket stopped buzzing, imagining the inevitable argument and her refusal to take him seriously. What do you think I’m going to do? Show up and fight her for you? I’m not in love with you. You’re so arrogant! She had proclaimed the meaninglessness of their relationship every time he brought it up. He couldn’t trust her. The last time he was caught, it was almost the same setup. Still, there were tears all around.
“What is it?” Nicole shocked him from his daydream which was becoming a waking nightmare. “I know this is crazy.” She approached, her face begging for forgiveness before she kissed him and embraced him. He placed the 48-piece toolset on the kitchen table and returned the embrace, hoping Lane wouldn’t text him now and cause a vibration between his leg and Nicole. “I don’t know anyone on the planet but you who would put up with me like this. I want you to know that I get it. This is financially irresponsible. But I have to do it.”
“We’ve already been over this a hundred times. Let’s just get through it.”
“I need you at the grill tomorrow.”
“I have a feeling you’re going to find an excuse why you can’t.”
“I’ll be there.”
“I’ll make it up to you.” She looked up from his shoulder with a fake smile. “What do you want?”
She was expecting a sexual answer. Given the tone of his day so far, he wasn’t in the mood. “I want to go hiking in the mountains one more time before it gets uncomfortably hot.”
“Of all the things I don’t want to do.”
“You don’t have to go.”
This was her relieved smile. “Oh, good. Take off next weekend. I’ll do something with Brianne. That’s settled.” She kissed him again. “Who’s going to tell Brianne to box up her games?”
“Don’t look at me. I’m cooking tomorrow.”
She huffed and wandered down the hall to Brianne’s room. It would be a few minutes of arguing, enough time to glance at all the texts Lane sent. He had guessed most of them. The last one – the silent treatment won’t work, big boy – he couldn’t have predicted. The silent treatment would have to work. Maybe after the sale tomorrow he could find a safe place to call her and go over the rules again. Ending their Friday morning encounters made more sense, but he wasn’t ready. He would know when it was time to end it.
Nicole returned stretching her face back with both hands.
“Resistance?” he asked.
“I called her ‘young lady’ and she lectured me on how that’s sexist.”
“Is she cooperating or not?”
“Yeah. We’ll have to buy her another one.”
“How about we just keep that one?”
“It’s a big-ticket item!”
Harry nodded his surrender. He would survive this just as he had survived other events Nicole planned that depended on his labor. Next weekend, he would be awake, dressed, and halfway to the mountains before she could schedule him for something unpleasant.
Her hands on her hips, satisfied that the cluttered living room was a work complete, she turned to him again. “We should get some sleep. We’ll need to wake up around four to get all our stuff on the lawn.”
Harry was exhausted by the time he fired up the grill. It should have been worth it to see Nicole so happy in her revenge, but he kept his mind on the mountains, occasionally revisiting his anger at Lane. In all of his imagined confrontations with her, he had to yell to get her to take him seriously. Anything he said softly she interpreted as foreplay. This was an irritation of a purely sexual relationship that no one ever mentioned in porn.
“What is it now?” Nicole had bounced across the crowded lawn, grinning until she reached him. “What’s wrong?”
“Nothing. Just tired.”
“You’re not leaving.”
“I know.” There was a time when she trusted him. Although she swore that she forgave him for the first affair (and to her credit, she didn’t mention it often) she administered occasional pop tests. His loyalty to the grill today was imperative.
The neighbors, Katie the bitch and her husband and son, lacked the popularity they held last year. Harry had watched carefully but observed no evidence that they cared. Earlier, Katie had spied the cooler full of meat and asked Harry to make her the first cheeseburger. He had agreed but wondered if Nicole would consider it treason.
“Look at this,” Nicole said. “Hardly anyone is going to their sale. Or anyone but ours. I told you this would work.”
“Yes, you did.”
“You still think it’s stupid.”
He sighed. “I want you to be happy. If you’re happy, then this worked.”
“Good.” He held his hand over the grill. It wasn’t ready. “Hungry? Can I make you something in a few minutes?”
“No, those are for the customers. Don’t feed the neighbors, either. Or if you do, don’t let them pay.”
“I’ll feed our child if you don’t mind.”
Nicole laughed. “Of course. But charge her double.” She darted away to talk to their neighbor, Glen, who was eyeing one of the laptops.
Harry sweated in the heat from the sun and the grill. He debated for a moment whether to remove his t-shirt. Would his partial nudity increase or decrease sales? Even though he admired his own physique, perhaps it wasn’t attractive for food service. Another hot breeze intensified by the fire overwhelmed him and he opted for comfort.
Nicole was far away at the curb when Katie appeared again. “Am I too early?”
He placed a burger on the grill and watched her admiring her future lunch.
“Can I ask you something?”
This could be dangerous. Conversing with the enemy. “Sure.” Nicole wasn’t watching him. He didn’t want to answer questions about it later. He would hurry with Katie’s lunch and avoid the interrogation.
“Wouldn’t you have come out better if you’d sent all this stuff back? I’ve watched all of it get delivered in the past few months. You still have the boxes in your garage.”
Maybe he was smiling because he was embarrassed for Nicole or because he predicted this effort would be transparent to anyone paying attention. “Not my decision.”
“Say no more.” She turned her attention to the condiment table. “How much are you charging for the burgers?”
“No charge for you.”
“I can’t let you do that.”
“Again, not my decision.”
She nodded. “Got it. This is just like high school.”
“I barely remember high school.” He flipped the sizzling burger.
“I don’t remember you in high school. I remember Nicole, but not you.”
“I stayed in the background.”
“Not even close.” His luck couldn’t hold out much longer. Nicole checked on him these days, even when she was center stage. He wanted to illustrate to Katie the ways he wasn’t smart. He should have finished college. He could have married someone more suited for him – even his parents had warned him. Maybe he shouldn’t have married at all, but he didn’t regret his daughter. He watched Brianne for a moment, sitting on the brick fence by the driveway, pouting because her gaming system had been sold before nine and Nicole told her it could be a long wait before another arrived. He waved his hands to get her attention and soon she was beside him, pouting under his arm.
Katie bent to pick up her napkin while she raved about her cheeseburger and lamented that she never grilled. Her bare breasts were visible. He had never noticed them before, probably because they were small, and he tried not to notice them now. Too late. Across the lawn, Nicole had targeted him. She charged toward them, not running, but almost marching with determination. Ogling the enemy’s tits had to be a crime.
“Dad, make me a hot dog,” Brianne said with her face pressed into his bare arm that she held around her. He tried in vain to shake her loose and thought to complain about her proximity, but again he noticed Nicole approaching.
He pulled Brianne closer. She was his shield. Nicole wouldn’t cause a scene with Brianne so close. He struggled to release the bratwurst from the packaging with one hand.
“Nicole,” Katie said before Nicole could attack, “I was just telling your husband how good this cheeseburger is. I think this makes all the effort worthwhile. You’re lucky to have a chef like him.”
“He’s a prize,” Nicole answered, glaring at him. “I’m sure your husband would cook for you.”
“He’s lazy like me. I don’t think we’ve grilled since we moved here.” Katie chuckled and wandered into the crowd.
“Dad, did you see her boobs when she bent over?”
“No.” He kept his eyes on the sweating bratwurst.
He didn’t look up when Nicole spoke. “You should make a lot of them. Don’t wait for individual orders.”
“Whatever you say.” He only focused on her angry eyes for a second but in that brief moment, the trauma of the last affair was relived from beginning to end. With Brianne at his side, there was nothing they could say. Nicole walked away, prepared to argue prices with the women checking out the unworn designer clothes.
“I think I’m going to be a vegan.”
Was Brianne serious? Her lips were snarled as she watched her food steaming on the grill. “Right now?”
“Do you ever look at meat and think about what it really is?”
“I guess.” He wondered when this had developed. He could usually predict what Brianne would do next. “You should probably try it out for a few days before you commit for a lifetime.”
“Okay. I’ll go in and get some peanut butter or something.”
“I can make you a grilled cheese.”
“I can’t eat cheese! I’m vegan!”
“Right.” She let go of his arm and left him for the house where her new lifestyle would begin. He moved the bratwurst to a bun and searched for a place to store it for a hungry neighbor. The grill was capturing attention already. He could see salivating shoppers motioning his way.
“This is a familiar sight. You, bare-chested and sweaty, holding a wet wiener.”
Lane. What was she doing here? He couldn’t speak. He searched for Nicole. Not visible in the crowd.
“Get out of here,” he whispered.
She smiled her usual smile. “Relax. I’m here for a TV. I told you.”
“And I told you!”
“God, you’re paranoid. I’m going to buy that TV if someone doesn’t beat me to it. Then, I’m leaving. I’m not stupid.”
“You’re here because I didn’t answer your texts. Don’t lie.”
“I want the TV.” She snickered. “And your wiener. I didn’t eat breakfast.”
Lane’s voice carried too well. Nicole was still absent, but Katie’s head turned for the wiener remark.
Nicole’s voice sounded before he could tell Lane to shut up. “Did Brianne tell you she’s a vegan?”
Lane extended her hand to Nicole. “I’m Lane. I work with your husband.”
“Anything in particular you’re looking for today?”
“A hot dog.”
Nicole turned to him. “Give her the hot dog.”
“How much?” Lane asked, reaching into the pocket of her white shorts.
“We’re not charging colleagues. It’s on the house,” Nicole decided for him.
Harry handed over the paper plate with the hot dog, disappointed that Lane didn’t have to pay. She knew better than to show up. As for buying a television, it was true that hers was broken, but she also knew none of these yard sale items were paid for yet.
“I also want that TV.”
“Great!” Nicole took her by the arm and escorted her across the lawn, even looking back with a grin. Perhaps she had forgiven him for seeing the enemy’s tits anyway.
This was serious, though. He would end it with Lane after the sale. Unable to read lips, he could not know what Lane and Nicole were talking about by the smaller of the two televisions. This couldn’t happen again. He was stupid for thinking it would be different with someone like Lane. Hookers would have been better choices. Only he couldn’t afford them after this yard sale.
No one was paying for the burgers and hot dogs he had placed on the table. Maybe they had asked but in his obsession with what Lane might be saying to his wife, he hadn’t heard them. The conversation looked friendly. No one was crying. It seemed as if hours passed before Lane passed a handful of cash to Nicole. Nicole, suspecting nothing, even helped load it into her car.
It was a detail that would humiliate Nicole if she ever learned the truth. He could imagine it. The same face she had when she asked how he could do this to her. You let me carry her TV to her car? You made her a hot dog? She was on our lawn where our daughter took her first steps?
“This is the problem with serving food at a yard sale.” Katie was nearing him carrying used paper plates, napkins, and plastic cups. “People are slobs.” She had whispered the last sentence.
“I’ll clean it up later.” In her eyes, he could see that she knew his secret from the wiener statement she overheard.
“It’s okay. I’ll be a good neighbor.”
He could only hope she meant she would keep the secret. He couldn’t help picturing her in bed tonight with her husband, Aaron, gossiping the way Nicole always did. He had no choice. He had to break up with Lane and deny it ever happened.
Not easy to dump Lane when she wouldn’t answer her phone. His texts sat unanswered under her list of last night’s attempts. Harry would have to stop and get into the shower that had been running for ten minutes.
He showered while grinding his teeth, feeling his face heat from anger he had to suppress for the rest of the night. He should have known Lane would react this way. She still thought it was all a joke. He could see her reading his break-up threats and typing out a few smart-ass responses. Tit for tat. Followed by a nipple pic. Then she would delete it because he hadn’t answered any of her texts yesterday.
“Got the totals!”
Nicole’s voice startled him. He peeked out the shower door to see her waving a piece of paper.
“Just at five thousand.”
“What’s the exact total?”
“Four thousand, six hundred and some change.”
“That’s not five thousand.” He closed the door and rested his head against the tiles. His phone. He turned off the water and stepped out to see the phone untouched on the vanity.
“It would have been if you hadn’t given away all the food for free.”
“I’m not taking the blame for this disaster.” He hid his face in a towel. She would read too much into his expression. Or not enough. There were so many reasons he could scream at her. The audacity of blaming him for any loss of profit. Lane refusing to answer texts on this day when she had disregarded the most basic of their agreements.
Nicole wasn’t watching him. While he had been smothering his anger in a towel, she had moved to the bathroom window that provided a view of the neighbor’s patio. “Look at this.”
He huffed but obeyed. Katie, the bitch, and her husband, Aaron sat cuddled on their porch swing while their young son entertained them with a monologue of some sort. All Harry could hear was the occasional laughter of the group. “What am I supposed to see here?”
“Acting like they don’t care!”
“I don’t think they’re acting.”
“Whose side are you on? Are you won over because of her peep show today? Were her tits that memorable?”
A towel over his face wouldn’t work this time. “I wasn’t going to tell you this because I know how important this day was to you. Katie knows what you did. She has been watching all this shit you bought arriving here and she wondered why we didn’t send it back and get the full refund. She said you were just like you were in high school. You made a fool out of yourself today. That’s why they’re laughing. They’re not licking their wounds because there aren’t any.”
The hesitation meant she would either explode into a screaming rant now or terrorize the house with her silence for hours. He waited, hoping she would opt for silence.
Her voice was calm. Silence would be her choice tonight. “Swear to God she said that to you?”
He put his hand on his bare chest. “Swear to God. But it’s over, so get over it. Let’s forget it.”
“We’ll have to move.”
“No way. We’ll have to pay off this mistake before we make another one.”
She sighed, her arms crossed over her chest, as she watched him step into shorts. Maybe she would wait until morning to detonate, and that would be interrupted by church. Leaving the bathroom, he heard his phone.
Nicole was holding it. She had read the text. Was it Lane? It had to be Lane. He attempted to grab it, but Nicole was faster. He felt blood rushing through his body, just like the last time he was caught. This time would be worse.
“It’s Roger. He wants to trade shifts with you Monday.”
His sigh of relief echoed on the tiled walls.
“Who did you think it was?”
He shrugged. “No idea.” There was a moment when he couldn’t look away without betraying himself, but his eyes were likely to give him away as well. He pleaded with his body to appear innocent one more time. He would never see Lane again.
Brianne slumped next to him on the sofa while a medical drama struggled to keep his attention. Nicole was still silent in their bedroom at the end of the hall. There would be a fight about this later. Harry only sympathized with the miserable love lives of the characters on the screen and envied that they had the distraction of saving lives to justify their existence. In his regret, even the memory of Lane’s physical perfection brought no relief.
Brianne annoyed him crunching pastel-colored cereal from the box.
“Are we out of milk? That’s not how you eat cereal.”
She stared at him the way Nicole did when he had said something incriminating. She waited for him to correct himself for whatever he said that was wrong.
“Vegan!” she said. “Remember? Vegan!”
“Still doing that? Why?”
“What’s wrong with being vegan?”
“Nothing. I wondered where the idea came from.”
“No shrugging. Tell me why. The thought process behind it.”
“I guess it’s different. Everything’s the same. School. Same people. Everyone remembers that I peed on the see-saw in the first grade. You and Mom still fighting about that stupid yard sale. Next year, sell the yard and the house. Do something different.”
“You don’t like living here?”
“Do you? Is this our only option?”
“Not sure I get the connection between living here and veganism.”
“I just told you. It’s something different. I’m quitting softball, too.”
He had been warned about the onset of puberty. It seemed wise to save his strength and let the conversation die. The cereal crunched between her teeth again as he stared through the television. Something different was what he had wished for when he met Lane. Now, she was the same as the others. Brianne was right about the monotony. It wasn’t just a moment of déjà vu. Last year, after the yard sale that first angered Nicole, he had sat with Brianne in front of the television while Nicole marinated in hatred down the hall.
Nicole had been silent for hours. Harry expected to find her sleeping, but she was cross-legged on the bed with the laptop, eyes focused on the screen.
“Porn loop?” he asked, hoping for a laugh.
“We can’t move. We can’t afford it. If you’ll get some sleep, you won’t be this way tomorrow.”
He reached for the laptop. Her grip was stronger. “Fine. Where do you want to move?”
“For now, we can stay at my uncle’s house in New Hampshire. They’re staying in Florida for a few more months. That should give us time to sell this place and make some decisions.”
He collapsed on the bed and attempted once more to take the laptop. She escaped his grasp. “This is dumber than the yard sale idea. We have jobs. Brianne has school. Moving because Katie outsmarted you is the most childish thing you have ever come up with.”
“I’m moving. Do what you like.” She closed the laptop and faced him with bloodshot eyes. There had been tears earlier. “But if you don’t come with me, that’s it. Once I’m gone, I’m gone.”
“I hate it when you do this.”
“Want to know what I hate?”
He covered his face and waited. She was going to say what she knew about Lane. Moments passed and he heard nothing but his breath colliding with his hands.
“I thought you’d jump at the chance to get out of here. Whoever she is, she broke your rules, right? You were going to dump her anyway. Think of all the stupid women in New Hampshire who don’t know how full of shit you are. This town has known both of us and all our faults all our lives.”
“Who are you talking about?”
“Don’t.” She took off her glasses and placed them on the nightstand. “I’m not stupid. All your lies and my dumb ideas aside, can you give me one good reason to stay here? Isn’t there a chance we’re in a rut like everyone else here? Do we want to be here when we’re sixty? What are we getting out of this?”
“That’s a lot of questions.”
“Remember before we got married? We planned to go places. Do things. This wasn’t it, was it?”
“Are you serious?”
“I’m more serious than I’ve ever been. I’m talking to you as your oldest friend because as your wife, I don’t really like you right now. But we were friends before that, and we weren’t these people we’re pretending to be.” She took his hands in hers. “Let’s get out of here. We can start over.”
He imagined the move and the novel sensation of an unknown location. “And if I don’t go?”
“I’m leaving either way, like I said. Brianne and I are packing in the morning. I’m sure she’ll be on board.” She reached to turn off the lamp on her side of the bed. “I should get some sleep. Long drive.”
Experience had taught him it was easier to acquiesce. At least, this time Nicole had considered finances. Staying rent-free at her uncle’s house would help, even if it only lasted a few months. Maybe her relatives would stay in Florida all year if someone were living in their primary residence. This could work.
Of course, it would be an adjustment. Looking for work, knowing no one, uprooting Brianne from the only life she had ever known. The irritations of selling a house several states away would require inconveniences he hadn’t imagined yet. Still, so much would be new. He could hike in new mountains on trails he had never touched.
He smiled, picturing Lane’s face when he texted her that he was already in another state far away. No more Friday mornings together. Roger would have to find someone else to switch shifts with. The shock of his family who had lived here for generations. There was satisfaction in providing shock. He could shock Nicole, too. Other women weren’t necessary anymore, not after what the past two had put him through. In a new place, Nicole could rebuild trust and change her negative expectations.
Visions of a new home he had never seen overtook his dreams.
The smell of bacon was familiar for a Sunday morning. For a moment, Harry didn’t remember what today promised. Life was changing. The hairdryer whirred from behind the closed bathroom door. Nicole was already preparing for their long day of driving.
Brianne stepped into the bedroom with a strip of bacon sticking out of her mouth like a cigar. The other piece, in her hand, she fed him.
“I know bacon isn’t for vegans,” he said as he chewed.
She giggled. “I can’t give up bacon.”
“Are you getting ready?”
She huffed as she turned back to the door. “I hate church.”
Nicole must not have told Brianne the big plan yet. In the bathroom, Nicole remained at the mirror waiting for the curling iron to beep while she curled the electric cord around the handle of the hairdryer. “If you don’t move, you won’t be ready in time,” she said.
“Is there a certain time we’re leaving?”
“We have to be at church in twenty minutes. It’s Sunday.”
He flipped up the toilet seat and stared at the blue water. Had he imagined the conversation last night? It was real. She had made plans. “When are we going to New Hampshire?”
She sighed and separated a section of hair for the curling iron. “I thought about that. If we leave, the bitch next door wins. She’ll think she ran me out of town. I’ll have to think of something else before next year’s sale.”
She laughed. “We can’t just leave! Everything we know is here.”
“I thought that was the point.”
“You’ll see. I’m right. Hurry up so we won’t be late.”
Harry would wear what he wore last Sunday, but with a different tie.