*Tick* *tick* *tick*
The kitchen clock pecked at Carol’s attention from its wall perch, a room away. She frowned and tried to focus on her TV show and her loop count. Once the clock hands touched eight and three; she’d sighed, put Ron’s supper in the fridge, and shuffled to the sitting room.
“I Love Lucy” was meant to block the ticking. The waiting.
The Corner to Corner crochet was meant to block the cold. The chills.
Maybe winter still hung around. Maybe she’d picked up a little something from her job at the airport.
Carol took a shaky breath. She’d been finding breathing harder than usual. No matter; a little eucalyptus and lavender could cure that right up. She’d be sure to mix some into the humidifier before turning in.
*Tick* *CLICK* *tick*
Nine o’clock. Where was that man? Carol had half a mind to suggest Ron go back to machining, maybe even try retirement. They could do it, now that they’d both been working a good long while and had almost paid her cancer bills. She’d been in remission for two whole years. His itchy nature could be satisfied with projects ’round the house, surely. She’d bring it up again, once he’d eaten some supper and settled down in his recliner.
A noise scramble-scritched at the door; his key in the lock. The front door opened with a screech and Ron stood against the dark spring night.
He coughed. “‘Mornin’, Care-all,” he said, smiling. He always smiled when he made that joke.
Carol looked cross, her usual response. “Now, Ron. You know it ain’t mornin’ and I ain’t yer Care-all.”
Closing the door behind him and locking it, he smiled the smile she’d loved since the day they’d met. He cleared his throat. “Reckon I picked up a cold somewhere,” he said. “Gotta get a drink.”
“All righty, Ron.” She looked down at her stitches as he walked past her to the kitchen. “Yer supper’s in there, too!”
She heard his big footsteps all over her just-mopped floor and hoped he hadn’t trailed in any mud. Once, he’d trailed in dog poop and she’d made him wipe it all up. She sighed; just another part of his job she’d rather do without.
Lucy and Ethel were stuffing chocolates in their mouths on the TV. Carol laughed to herself; good old Lucy.
Carol started a new row.
Lucy stuffed chocolates into her uniform.
Carol finished the row and started a new one.
“Had to report to the city today,” Ron said, coming from behind with his food. He coughed again, against his shoulder. She watched him settle into his old recliner, both creaking and moaning.
“Oh?” Credits ran down the screen and her finger held the loop.
He selected a carrot, whirled it in mashed potatoes and topped it with some hearty roast beef. “‘Said I needed to not deliver to wrong houses.” In went his fork.
She made a noise like their furnace when it didn’t want to spark. Ron caught her eye; he had such nice eyes. He nodded, swallowed, and smiled his sideways smile. “Well! Don’ that beat all!” she exclaimed.
He helped himself to the rest of his supper.
“Watcha gonna do, Ron?” Some warning about staying inside flashed on the TV. Holding her stitch with one hand, she switched the screen off with the remote.
He shrugged. “‘Could always work with Marty.”
Carol dropped her stitch. She faked a laugh. “Right.”
“I might be serious.”
She looked at her hands, pretending on finding her yarn again. “Well …it’s a good thing he’s not outta prison, then.”
Now he laughed, but it wasn’t his happy one. “Right.”
Continued with “Going Postal, VII.”
©2020 Chelsea Owens