Supper

 

 

Jeff comes home late from work.

This is the fifth night in a row that heís made me keep his supper warm while he wanders.

I demand an explanation and as his wife, I deserve one.

But heís in one of his fidgety moods and wants to go out again.

Heís worse than any of our children, although Jeffery, our eldest, acts just the way Jeff does, and that worries me.

Of course, I wonder why Jeff always has to go see Sally after he leaves here.

Sally and I used to be buds Ė so much together through high school people used to call us twins.

Now my husband sees her on the side and I hate her for it.

Still, Iím scared to confront him about it.

Partly because Jefferyís sitting at the table, and heís old enough to understand while our other two arenít.

Jeffery wants to leave, too.

To wander off to some devious deed the neighbors will report back about later, as if Iím to blame, as if Iím being a bad mother.

But he walks in his fatherís footsteps and Iím helpless to stop him.

I tell Jeff if he needs to leave so badly he ought to go. Why mother staying around to have supper with the family if he doesnít want to?

I immediately regret this.

I know Sally and know how well she can satisfy a man.

I ask Jeff to be reasonable, that we ought to spend time together.

Jeff looks at me as if he has ants in his pants, as Jeffery rushes through his own meal, giving me a dirty look when I say I need to speak with him after supper about school.

The principal called again to complain about all of Jefferyís cuts.

Jeff tells me to leave the boy along, the two of them gagging up on me the way girls sometimes did back in school

I used to go home and cry in my closet because my parents didnít care.

Jeff and Jeffery are both so restless to leave I fear they might stampede

What does Sally have that I donít?

But I know the answer.

She has my husband.

I stand firm and tell Jeffery we will talk.

This is too much for Jeff who pushes himself up from the table and announces he is leaving, and he does, pausing at the door to glare at me when I say he needs to be home by midnight.

He says heís not a child, but he is.

Jeffery watches his father leave, then gives me the same dirty look.

I saw he can leave after supper and after weíve had our little talk.

Weíre both trapped.

Bad memories rise up in me, such as the time I had to tell my parents I was pregnant, and how they blamed me, not Jeff, though he cared so little to do the right thing my parents had to threaten him with the law until he did.

The phone rings.

It is Sally looking for Jeff, though she has disguised her voice.

This is an old routine she used from our days in school when she called the office to say we were sick so we could really go to the movies.

We me distracted, Jeffery bolts for the back door.

I shout for him to stop.

He does.

I stare at the phone, barely able to breathe let alone speak. Then, I tell Sally to leave my husband along.

Yes, I know who she is and what she is doing, and I wonít stand for it any more.

As trapped as I fell with Jeff, I know how much worse Iíll feel without him.

I slam the phone down and turn to my son, and tell him to get to his room. He has homework to do.

Something my voice convinces him to play and he slinks out like a scolded dog, and I got to the closet for my coat.

Jeffery asks where Iím going.

I pause, think, then tell him:

Iím going to get my husband back.

 


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