It was hard for her to discern what it was about that moment, filled with unease as it was, that had such a need to protect rising with in her. But she took that notion, recognizing it for what it was, put it upon a shelf high and out of reach in the back of her mind and introduced them. She looked over at Christopher, taking stock of his clean shaven appearance, the readily apparent gauntness in his face, as he shot a weary look toward her armed and disapproving son. He meant well, she knew, but that didn’t change her slight irritation with her daughter in law telling him to stop by at end of shift.
“Robert,” she said, “please let go of his hand.”
When they each took a seat as far from each other as possible, she tried desperately to not laugh at the awkward positions both had decided upon. Christopher, in his holey garb, sat with his back rigid and his weight leaning forward as though ready to flee while Robert kept his hand resting idly on his gun, trying to look fierce. Neither looked like they belonged in the comfortable room, warmly decorated and softly lit by both the fire and the Christmas tree. In truth, it seemed to her they both looked so at home they might as well have been dropped into a shark infested tank without wetsuit or gear. The look each man were casting in her direction made her think that, in their minds, she was the shark making it seem all the funnier to her. She caught the giggle nagging at the back of her throat by forcing it into a small choking sound. When her son leveled his interrogative look at her, she made her excuses and went to the kitchen.
Waiting for the tea kettle to fill Susan noted that the dark of midnight gave the snow covered lawn the look of blue velvet. The night was clear, the stars twinkling coldly in the sky as though shivering from their home in the frigid atmosphere, and still she found herself beleaguered by memories of going for walks in weather such as this. Thick padding of her husband’s glove in her hand as they dodged bits of ice on the pavement. The cold blast of ice trickling under her coat as a snowball wormed its way under the collar.
The warning of her therapist resonated within her mind, telling her she needed to not dwell so much upon those memories. Her fingers brushed over the scar upon her arm as a gentle admonishment before turning her attention back to the men in the other room. She could hear words being exchanged over the hush and gurgle of the water from the tap and listened intently for some sign she needed to hasten from the task she had set for herself. Nothing above the volume of polite speech greeted her ears and so she put together plates of shortbread and the little dish of lemon curd on a tray to be brought to the living room. They had been her husband’s favorite treats after a large dinner and so she would share them with the men present, knowing she wished it could be him again instead.
Be sure to check back on Tuesday for the next installment!