The opening line came to me in the shower. It grew from there.
Moments In Grace
There was never enough time anymore.
He tries to pinpoint the exact instant in his memory when their paths diverged into separate directions, yet still managed to sweep forward, but he couldn’t select it out of the hubris.
He’d taken to meeting with her about their various assignments for the day while she soaked in her morning bath, preferring it to a shower to keep her middle-aged skin moist and supple.
He sits where he always does, on the toilet, talking with his hands like he does, and watching how the expensive bath products makes the water milky and how the suds cling to areas of her body that form islands about the waterline. How, every once and again, her breasts would bob up from the suds and he gets a rush of excitement followed by a slight blush of embarrassment, even though they dated for four years before being married for 14. He prides himself on knowing every square inch of her body, but still, she continues to have that ability to set his mind and skin to flush.
The kids march up and down the hallway, protesting the flavors of cold cereal, complaining the milk is bad, asking when they’d finally get out of the lady’s bathroom please, as it was their time to get ready and today one of them needs her hair to really look cute because rumor has it that Traci dumped Dakota and maybe, just maybe, a great hair day would make him notice her among all the other still-developing fifth-graders.
He sighs and continues to watch his wife move up and down in the water, eyes closed, nodding as if she’s listening both to what he’s telling her and to the arguments of the children in the hall.
“I can’t take it anymore,” he says, suddenly.
She opens one eye, a squinty gaze because of the soap and the sweat and feels the icy blueness of her iris stab through him.
She opens her mouth to formulate a response to his statement, but before she can speak, he opens both palms in front of his chest, shakes his head and says, “Let me take the kids to school today.”
She smiles, a tired half-grin of mixed wariness and opens both eyes. She sinks her chin below the water and makes milky bubbles with motorboat lips. She lifts up again, sends a playful stream of water from her lips like a waterfall, cascading across her now-exposed breasts.
He slaps his hands against his thighs and stands, kicks off his expensive leather loafers, takes his wallet and keys from his pants, drops them with a clank on the toilet’s porcelain lid.
And slips one sock-clad foot, then another, into the bath, between her parted thighs.
She screams in protest, an alarmist yelp that stops the children in the hall, halts their dissent and piques their interest in what exactly their parents are doing behind closed, but not locked, doors.
He settles into the water awkwardly, ass-first with knees clenched and bent, which sends a wave of water over gushing over the lip of the tub and onto the floor with a splash.
She screams again, less intense, more playful and pushes a wave of water at him with cupped hands that that soaks his white Oxford and ruins his silk tie, the red one with slivers of alternating gold and blue angled stripes.
He reaches for her and she slides toward him. They careen into an embrace, small kisses flittering across ears, those tender parts of the neck.
“I’m declaring a mental health day,” he says as he slides his lips across her now-goose-fleshed chest.
“I’ll see if Joanie can take the kids to school,” she says, tensing and clenching all at once as his lips find one nipple, then the other.