Escalade

by Julie Monrad

 

An Escalade is like a Suburban. You know what a Suburban is?

Twenty-two…

 

Only meatloaf in the fridge. There’s always leftovers from meatloaf night. Pull it out, unwrap the aluminum foil, cut off a piece and put it in the microwave. No plate on top to stop the splatter. She’d hate that.

 

Twenty-one…

 

The meatloaf weighs twice as much upon reentry to the fridge. Palm catches the top of the fridge door, grey arm hairs flaccid, stomach gut pushing against the pant-belt-tucked-shirt barrier. Large exhale with the reset upright. Fridge door shuts with a gentle thud and suck.

 

Twenty…

 

Turn to stare at the meatloaf rotating round and round. Pops and snaps of beef fat and sauce splattering. Index finger into the ear catches an itch around grey hairs. She had been begging him to wax his ears.

 

Glazed eyes, dull ears. Like sitting in algebra class…until she walked in.

 

Fifteen people. It was really something.

Nineteen…

 

Fingertips prick painfully at the hot plate bottom. Plate clatters against the counter. The oven mitts are difficult to find. She did all the cooking, even the grilling. Snap open a beer upon coming home, sit at the table and talk to her while she drifts around pots, pans, cutting boards and dishes. She floated.

 

His angel.

 

They worked together to lift it off her.

Eighteen…

 

TV table sticks, refuses to open. Coffee-table turns to dinner-table as the blue light of the television lights up the room.

 

Twenty-two minutes. New York traffic…especially in Time’s Square…No. It wouldn’t have made a difference.

Seventeen…

 

Meatloaf is dry. It sticks to the roof of the mouth; smack smack. Beer’s sitting open, forgotten on the counter. Little bubbles flying away…like her. Smack, smack.

 

Sixteen…

 

Smack…smack. Just knees and a limp fork in a limp hand hovering over dry meatloaf in view; yet nothing is seen. Sitcom laughter echoes. Blue lights flicker. Grey arm hairs shimmer in blue lights. Little ghosts of youth.

 

Fifteen…

 

One, two, three minutes. Five decently delivered lines. Five more crowd laughs. Just knees and a limp fork in a limp hand hovering over dry meatloaf in view; still nothing is seen. Smack. Swallow. She loved that line. Subconscious absorbing every word. She loved this episode. Maybe she’ll come back.

 

Fourteen…

 

Limp to the kitchen with stiff hips. Take off the tie that’s been hanging loosely. Open the fridge to retrieve a beer. Only two left. One beer a night; pick up beers Thursday or tomorrow to play it safe. Maybe before work. Work…

 

I’m sorry sir.

Thirteen…

 

Time off. There’s time off for this. But if he goes in he doesn’t have to say it. Doesn’t have to say a word. Go in, wave, walk to the desk, “work”. Work is good. Work is normal. Normal was good. Normal was great. Normal had been everything dreamt of since they were studying for pre-calc and finally kissed.

 

Twelve…

 

Crack open the beer. Sit at the table and look up around the kitchen. She’s not there. Condensation forming around fingertips. Take a sip. Mouth opens to tell her about his day. What a horrible day. What a horrible fucking day. And not even her ghost to talk to.

 

Is there someone that can help you get home?

Eleven…

 

There is no one to help get home. No one at home. There are no kids, no grandkids, no dog, not even a cat or hamster or turtle or some other similarly shitty small animal. Nothing but meatloaf and beer and TV. Not even her ghost.

 

Do you want to see her?

Ten…

 

To see her one more time. To fall into her arms, kiss her soft wrinkled cheek, pull gently at the grey hairs peeking out under her dye job, feel the swat of her hand, the roundness of her bum, the gentle press of her lips. Her warmth. She was always cold and yet so, so warm.

 

We’d like to warn you...it may be difficult to see her like this. 

Nine…

 

Empty. Silent. Cold.

 

Sip of beer. Alone. One love, one life, one heart, gone. Gone because she lived so wholly, so fully, so lovingly, she had no to reason to haunt. The emptiness haunts.

 

Sir, would you like to press charges?

Eight…

 

Sip of beer. Echoing TV. Uncomfortable kitchen chair. Old, metal, stiff kitchen chair. Back from when they couldn’t afford a damned thing. Not even a diamond ring.

 

Bill, can you please pick up line two?

Seven…

 

He’d never bought her a diamond ring.

 

Someone from the police department is on the phone for you.

Six…

 

She deserved a diamond.

 

Bill…

Five…

 

She had deserved a Goddamned fucking diamond.

 

Bill…?

Four…

 

Becky’s voice didn’t sound the same, he knew from her voice she knew from the cop’s voice that something had happened. Something horrible. Horrible fucking day. Horrible fucking day. Horrible fucking day.

 

Three…

 

Throwing the bottle won’t help. Throw the beer then have to pick it up. He’d never thrown a beer in his life but if he had she would have picked it up. She would have kissed his temple, patted his arm, called him an idiot and swept it up. He would have apologized…he would have apologized…weren’t there so many things to apologize for? Everything he’d ever dreamt of: his. And what did she get? Not a kid, no grandkids, not even a dog or cat because he was allergic. Not even a diamond ring to take into the fucking ground with her. A grave not even fit to rob.

 

Two…

 

Stand up, put the bottle in the sink. Turn. There’s an open beer sitting on the counter. She would have noticed. She would have made sure he didn’t open a second. A wasted beer. A flat beer. Bubbles up the spout. Uncatchable.

 

Gone…

Julie Monrad is a squash coach at a youth development program, chef, writer, and photographer. Her previous writings have been published in The Crimson, Pangyrus, and Spare Change News.

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August 2019

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