“It’s getting cold out,” she said, pulling her robe tighter around her body and wishing she knew what he was thinking about. He’d barely talked during dinner and afterwards, he had disappeared outside before she’d even cleared the table.
He remained silent, a solid mass in a worn flannel shirt and grease-stained jeans, hunched in an old lawn chair, the full moon casting the only light in their small backyard.
“The moon sure is pretty tonight.”
Still, he didn’t speak.
She hated when he withdrew from her, when he closed his mind and kept everything to himself because it made her feel he was also closing off his heart. “The chicken was a little dry, didn’t you think? It’s so hard for me not to overcook it after that food poisoning scare last year.”
He ran his hand through his hair, not yet gray, but starting to thin a little on the top. “I liked it.”
“Are you going to tell me what’s bothering you?”
“Just got a lot on my mind.”
She knelt at his feet, covering his hands with her own. “Like what?”
He shook his head once. “Nothing you need to worry about.”
She frowned. “I hate it when you won’t talk to me.”
He shifted in the chair, removing his hands from her touch.
“Would you please talk to me?”
He wished she’d just go away and leave him in peace. He needed to think. He needed time to form a game plan. And then he would talk. Reluctantly, he asked, “What about?”
She stood up, clenching her fists. He could be so stubborn and so frustrating, even now after all the years they’d been together. Would he ever trust her with not just the good, but also the bad? “Let’s talk about our first date.”
He jerked his head up, meeting her eyes. “What?”
“Do you remember our first date?”
“That was a long time ago.”
“Nineteen years ago today. Tell me what you remember.”
“Today?” He shook his head, confused by her choice of topic. “Ahh…we went…to the movies…?”
“We went to that little diner by the railroad tracks. Remember that place?”
He smiled. “The Silver Bullet. Because it was a silver trailer.”
“Yep. And do you remember what we ordered?”
He groaned. “What is with the test? You did say it was nineteen years ago! Burgers?”
“No, we did not have burgers.”
“We had milkshakes.”
“No, we did not have milkshakes.”
“Okay, well, what’s your point?”
“My point is that we’ve been together a long time. Too long for you to continue to hold the role as “Tough Man” and quite frankly, I don’t want the role of “The Little Woman.”
He started to object, but she touched her fingertips to his lips. “You can have tonight to do your solitary thinking. Lucky for you I’m tired.” She smiled then, cupping his face in her hands and leaning forward to kiss him. “And then tomorrow morning I expect you to tell me what’s troubling you. Whatever it is, we’ll be okay because we’re together.” She dropped her hands. “Try not to stay up too late. Tomorrow is another day.”
He listened as she climbed the steps and entered the house, her entrance punctuated by the creaking screen door. He didn’t want to tell her he’d lost his job until he had a plan of action, possibly even a new job lined up. He didn’t want to tell her that they were already behind on their mortgage. And not by a little. He didn’t want to see the worry in her eyes, the disappointment. He’d always tried to be strong for her and he wouldn’t stop now even if it was his fault they were in this mess.
He only stayed outside for a little longer, but when he walked into the kitchen, there on the table was an RC Cola and a Moon Pie. And suddenly their first date at the Silver Bullet came flooding back to him. It had been her first moon pie, something he couldn’t get over. She’d been wearing a white sundress with tiny yellow flowers on it. He closed his eyes, remembering the red table, the shiny red booths, the white uniforms, the pie display. And she’d smelled like lemons, which was such a contrast to the diesel smells he breathed in everyday at the garage. They’d talked so long they’d missed the movie, but neither of them had cared. And they’d been practically inseparable since that first date.
He smiled suddenly, remembering her comment on not wanting to be “The Little Woman.” With her blazing red hair and matching personality, he’d never once thought of her as that. And tomorrow he’d have to confess the tough spot he’d gotten them into. But tonight he could enjoy the sweet perfection of a moon pie washed down with an RC Cola. Tomorrow was another day.