“Alright, you two, pile in!”
Kimberly ushered Lynn and Danielle into her Volvo.
“Hey, the car looks all shiny,” said Lynn as she climbed in the back seat.
Kimberly smiled. “That’s because I washed it.”
She reached over to buckle Lynn in the back seat as Danielle climbed in next to her.
“Mommy!” Lynn protested. “I can do it!”
Lynn tossed her backpack onto the floor and click the buckle into place. She then pulled her long hair out of its ponytail and let it fly loose.
“Alright.” Kimberly put her hands up. “I was just making sure both of your hands were free to do your hair, that’s all.”
“So, how was school?” Kimberly asked, getting behind the wheel.
“Good!” Both girls chimed in unison.
“Are you two looking forward to your pajama party tonight?”
“Yeah!” Came a second stereo response.
Cheryl had offered to take Lynn for the night so Kimberly and Gary could indulge in some much-needed time alone.
Kimberly signaled a right turn out of the school parking lot and headed down the main street past the fast food restaurants and strip malls.
They were just about to pass the golden arches.
Five. Four. Three. Two…
“Mommy?” Lynn said.
“No,” Kimberly responded to the unasked question. She smiled into the rearview mirror.
Lynn crossed her arms in front of her chest and tried to scowl but the corners of her mouth twitched. In moments both girls broke into a fit of giggles.
It was an old routine whenever they passed the McDonalds on the main road. It had become kind of like a private game between them, neither expecting the question or the answer to be any different.
Kimberly turned left onto Piedmont Drive and followed the winding road, trying to figure out what she should wear for her ‘date’ with Gary tonight.
Gary had told her before he’d left for work that morning to dress in something tight and sexy. He’d said he had a surprise for her.
Lynn’s sudden odd behavior had taken most of her attention and she’d had very little time for Gary. She wanted to make it up to him.
For the past week, Lynn had returned to her bright and witty self. Kimberly had finally finished the painting for the Bellevue’s and had even worked in a few yoga sessions.
It was something else she’d been neglecting for a few months and had been meaning to return to.
She smiled as an image from three years ago floated into her mind.
Lynn had been about four when she’d first seen her mother practicing yoga. Kimberly had been in the studio surrounded by candles and low, melodic music. Her body was contorted into a full forward bend so her head was sticking out from between her legs. Thinking back, the scene might have frightened most children.
She’d simply pushed open the door, her large eyes wide with curiosity. She’d tilted her head to the side, as if trying to figure out how the position was managed.
Then, to Kimberly’s shock, she’d gotten on the mat beside her and struck an adorable variation of the same pose! She’d toppled over after ten seconds and Kimberly had collapsed, laughing. Ever since, Lynn joined her in her practice whenever she felt like it.
It wasn’t something Kimberly expected Lynn to keep up with, but the door was always open to her if she wanted to join, and she had to admit, Lynn was becoming quite the little yogi!
“You look great!” Cheryl said as she opened the door. Lynn and Danielle flung off their backpacks and thundered up the stairs to Danielle’s room.
Kimberly looked down. “I do?”
A sudden crash and muttered curse greeted her as she stepped inside.
Cheryl answered Kimberly’s questioning look with an eye roll toward the upstairs bathroom. “He’s putting in the light fixture.”
Kimberly laughed. “Wasn’t he supposed to do that weeks ago?”
Cheryl gave her sister-in-law a wry smile and shrugged as if to say: ‘What can you do?’
“So where are you and Gary headed off to tonight?” Cheryl asked as they walked into the kitchen.
“I’m not sure. He’s acting kind of mysterious. He says it’s someplace fancy.”
Cheryl raised her eyebrows. “Fancy, huh?”
“Yeah, I know. I thought the same thing. Who are you and what have you done with my boyfriend?”
Cheryl wrinkled her nose.
“I know. I hate the word ‘boyfriend’ too. But if I say ‘partner’, it sounds like I’m talking about a lesbian relationship, and if I say 'husband' I’m lying, and I can’t say, ‘my man’ either, because it would make me sound…”
“Like a biker chick?” Cheryl offered, her frown turning into a good-natured smile. “You know, you’re right, ‘boyfriend’ is your only safe option.”
“They should have a word for women in our forties, like us.”
“Hey, watch it,” Cheryl scolded, handing Kimberly a bottle of water. “I won’t be 40 for another year and a half!”
Both women laughed.
In the time it took the two women to pass fifteen more minutes of idle conversation, Cheryl's husband, Thomas, had managed to drop what sounded like two more heavy objects along with a string of muttered obscenities.
He was just heading down the stairs to, apparently, abandon the project for the day, when Tom Junior walked in the front door. The relief on the man's face was so apparent, Kimberly had to stifle a laugh.
He beamed at his son as though he was there to offer the first sip of water he'd had since wandering in the desert for days. “Think you could give your old man a hand?"
Tom had shrugged, placing his backpack next to the door and followed his father up the stairs.
“Don’t ever tell my husband this,” Cheryl confided as Kimberly headed for the door, “but I would rather have my son do all the minor repairs in this house.”
Kimberly smirked and shook her head. Moving toward the stairs, she called up to her daughter. “Lynn, sweetie, I’m leaving!”