Because writing prompts are always fun, I opted to grab another inciting concept from my bag of prompts and see where it might lead. What, you don’t believe I have a bag of prompts at my disposal? Guess again. The writing group I worked with in Colorado used to open our meetings with a ten-minute free-write, and I was appointed to gather an assortment of prompts. Then the group size expanded, we needed the extra time, and I was left with my bag of tricks. Below is the result from the prompt: Husband comes home and finds a surprise. Enjoy! and thanks for dropping by.
Dog-tired from working a twelve-hour shift to revamp a favored co-worker’s blunder—overtime that my bungwad boss probably wouldn’t authorize for reimbursement—the last thing I needed to see when I arrived home was a prophylactic pasted to the kitchen tabletop. Supper would have been far more appealing. But there it was. Its foil wrapper lay on the floor.
My attaché thunked on the linoleum. I scanned the room. The tabletop performance of Kevin Costner and Susan Sarandon in Bull Durham ground through my mind. A clichéd rendezvous between the mailman and the neglected housewife bumped Kevin and Sue from my lusty torment. Then again, maybe it was the Schwann’s distributor, delivering this week’s bone-in special. But other than the telltale condom, the kitchen reflected no indications of gritty passion or disarray.
True, my job sucked lately and tested not only my patience, but family obligations as well, including the house. But so what if we lived in a two-bedroom bungalow? Cheryl and I had considered the purchase as an investment toward our future. Thirteen years of love, hopes and dreams—and mortgage payments—were at stake. Gambled for what, one frantic poke? Or was it the first? Had I been so pissed off about work that I missed all the signs? And what about our daughter? What will—Good God, was Maggie home from Daycare when Cheryl and—whoever—did the nasty?
Nausea wrenched my stomach as I stared at the table once more. Bouts of rage and self-pity battled inside my brain. I questioned who was truly to blame, yet craved restitution. Why, why, why?
Five-year old Maggie marched into the kitchen, “Hi Daddy, glad to be home?”
Ordinarily Maggie’s greeting solved all my woes. A two-foot, four-inch miracle worker, whose wide grin cast magical spells that so often turned bitter to sweet in an instant. But I’d never tested her cure-all smile to this extent. This time the lump in my throat hampered a reply.
She persisted. “What’s the matter Daddy?”
“In bed—one of her mybrain headaches. She took her medicine and had me lie down too. But I waked-up and needed something to do. Why didn’t you tell me you have balloons in your night table, Daddy?”
“Balloons. I found ’em and came in here so I wouldn’t bother Mommy. You’ll have to show me how to blow ’em up though. The one I tried got loose and flew all around the kitchen and landed in my milk. Had to dump the milk in the sink. I was getting another balloon when I heard you come home. Can you help me blow it up, Daddy?”
A laugh burst from my mouth. My little miracle worker had saved me again. I lifted her from the floor with a bear hug. Maggie’s giggles and squirms rewarded my soul.
After a detour to kiss Cheryl’s throbbing noggin, my daughter and I retreated to the living room and began searching the Classifieds, for “Daddy’s new job.”