Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Thanks A Lot

Photograph by Seth Townsend (not posed)

She blamed her father. He used to tell her happiness was the ability to ignore the score. You’re behind your whole life, he would say, but in the end you’ll win. He lost. He died early. Heart attack. Playing softball. She was in high school, sixteen years old, and somehow took the long view of this. She kept smiling. She moved forward. She worked two years checking at Target then two years waitressing at Ruby Tuesday’s then went to a Super Bowl party at Buffalo Wild Wings and met a guy fresh out of law school. He was into golf and sports on TV and liked pina coladas, he said, and winked, but couldn’t give a shit about walks in the rain. He smiled a lot too. He was a nice guy. She married him a year later, on Super Bowl Sunday, because that felt right, because the championship game meant so much to him.

One summer Sunday night, she was forty years old and her husband was forty-four and their son was sixteen and upstairs in his room. She was either downstairs in the kitchen putting things away or bringing things outside to the patio where her guests were relaxing with drinks and snacks. It was a lot of work but she was happy to do it. She liked having company. So did her husband. She stepped behind the garage to sneak a cigarette and saw her husband leaning against the wall with his blue, St. John’s Bay golf slacks at his ankles and with his golf buddy’s wife squatting in front of him and taking a careful look at his personality. Her husband ran his hands through the woman’s hair and closed his eyes as if he were discovering, after a lifetime search, the last unknown quantity in the universe.

On the patio, her guests in their department store clothing matched the patio furniture she bought a month ago at Home Depot. One guest, the man whose wife was behind the garage, chuckled absently and drained the rest of his Bud-light and crumpled the can and looked around not for his wife, not for anything human. She looked in the upstairs window, into her son’s room, and saw him shirtless, standing in a purple, fluctuating light. He was moving. She could not see his hands. She had a long way yet to go. She hoped she had endurance enough to get there. She smiled at her guest and asked if he would like another beer. He did. He handed her the empty can and an empty plastic plate and a plastic fork and a crumpled paper napkin and she took these things inside.


  1. is this the start of something or just a slice of life?

  2. Not sure, really. It's like a story, based on a picture, in which there isn't a story. Maybe.


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