I should’ve checked under the pick-up before I tried to leave in the morning. Now, I’m here in the cold wind digging a hole I shouldn’t have to dig. If I just checked under the damn truck. Cynthia wraps Sara’s body in a sheet and sets her beside the hole. The ground is a mixture of stones and tough soil, making it a hard dig. I recall the last time I dug a hole like this, I remember better the whiskey that accompanied it. I lick my lips thirsty for a crutch I gave up some time ago. I should have checked under the damn truck.
Cynthia mourns Sara’s death far more than I. Not to say I didn’t feel the guilt deep in my stomach when I looked at the empty pillow. Just another bottle for the ocean to take. Cynthia seems to know right when my guilt is the highest however, she’ll make comments about the house being so empty or cold. These weren’t untrue statements, but statements that were uppercuts into the guilt in my gut. With the house feeling vacant and needing a distraction; I suggest to Cynthia that we should go to that new theater they opened up two towns over. As if she was told summer was tomorrow she springs to life and runs up the stairs to get changed. I listen to her dance around the room above my head. Her beauty isn’t why I fell in love with her, but damn it helps. She walks down the stairs dressed like we were going to the opera. “Is too much?” She asks. I shake my head no. She runs up the stairs again and changes into something a little more modest.
She joins me in the car as I sit there letting the heater warm up. We stop at the diner for hot chocolate. Rose and Cynthia go on and on about the movies that were playing. The decision is made by them to see a film called It’s a Mad, mad, something. I don’t remember the title. We leave and drive towards the theater. The heater fights a losing battle against the cracked windows as we smoke. “I’ve been thinking we should quit.” Cynthia says as she puts her cigarette out in the ashtray. “I don’t know, I kind of enjoy it.” I say exhaling slowly. She playfully smacks me on the arm. “I’m serious, if we’re going to grow old we might as well try.” I throw my cigarette out the window. “Alright, after this pack we’ll quit.” I say. We roll up the windows and Cynthia slides over to see next to me. I really do love bench seats.
We apparently got far too comfortable in the theater as the moment we stepped out into the night, the cold air assaulted ever bit of our exposed skin. We make a mad dash for the car. The engine idles as we wait for the heater to warm up. We force our bodies closer and closer, and soon we are no longer trying to stay warm. I really do love bench seats. We finish and the car is now warmed up completely. I wipe the condensation away from the window and drive home. Our house was just as cold, but again we figured out a way to stay warm.
Three weeks have passed and I was going crazy without a cigarette. Jasper called me inside as I tried to change the plugs on his truck, and I was somewhat grateful to be able to come into the warm house. Olive sits on the couch crying next the radio. I wasn’t sure what was happening until Jasper fills me in. “Somebody, somebody, sho-shot the press…” He couldn’t get the words out, but the voice over the radio finishes his sentence. “the president remains in the emergency room… ” I knew the outcome, but the news was something completely different. “I need to go.” I tell both of them. They don’t say a word as I left. I rush outside, Cynthia took the day off today, and would most likely be at home by herself watching TV. I start my truck and speed home, I don’t know why I was terrified, but it coursed through every part of me. I reach the house and I jump out of the truck. I cut my hand on a protruding nail on the railing for the steps, I’ve been meaning to fix it, but I kept forgetting. The pain is enormous but melts away when I walk inside, instead of the echoing sounds of a news report the chilling sounds of July Garland’s voice flows through the house. She only listened to this song when she was feeling blue. She lays on the floor holding her stomach as tiny droplets fall down her face. “Are you okay?” I ask as I lift the needle from the player stopping the music. She looks up at me and wipes away her tears. “I’m pregnant…” She says almost unsure of the words coming out of her mouth. I put the needle back down and walk outside. A trail of red drops follows me as I walk down the road. I make it to the end when I begin to cry. I sit on the cold ground when she drives up. “You’re going to freeze out here!” She yells to me. I sit up and get into the car. “Did you hear about Kennedy?” She asks. I nod my head. “It’s a crazy world.” She says turning the car to go back home. As if it didn’t happen she begins to make herself some lunch as I clean up my hand in the sink. The hot water hurts my fingers more than the wound.
We lay in bed with the radio on, the news was beginning to repeat itself. I get up and click it off. I stare at Cynthia as she reads her magazine. She must have felt my eyes on her because she looks up from it to me. “I’m sorry for earlier, It’s not the way I should act.” I say, she sets her magazine down. “To be honest, I was expecting much worse.” She says. About to say something when the phone downstairs rings. I walk down and answer it. “Hello?” I ask unsure who would be calling at this time. “Hey, hey Karl. It’s going to be a col-cold one to’morrow. Just stay home.” Jasper’s voice sounds raspier than usual. “If you say so.” I say. He waited long enough for my response then hung-up. I remove the phone from my face, take one confused look at it then shrug the exchange off. I grab a glass of milk for Cynthia before I head upstairs. The lights were out when I reach the room. I set the glass on her nightstand and crawl into bed. My hand finds its way over her lower stomach, though I didn’t recall telling it to go there.
Cynthia leaves for work as I pretend to be asleep. She kisses me on the head and walks out of the room. As the door closes I sit up and get dressed. I didn’t know exactly what was going to happen, and that terrified me. Maybe that’s what it takes to be an adult. Being constantly afraid of the unknown, but pushing forward, because if you don’t, who will? I drive to John’s hardware store. He looks a little sickly as I enter the shop. “Hello, John!” I shout to him. He mumbles his greeting then gets back to wiping off things that were already cleaned. I pick up some rollers and brushes. “I need some pale blue paint, lead-free if you have it.” I tell john setting the brushes onto the spotless counter. “Redoing a room?” he asks. I run my fingers through my disappearing hair. “Looks like we have a little fool like me on the way.” I say. His sickly form brightens. “Well, I’ll be! That’s fantastic, Linda and I were just saying how you two should start a family. Good for you!” He speaks over the paint mixing machine. “We have some baby stuff left over from the last one if Cynthia and you all want to come over and take a look.” I don’t know what to say, so I don’t say anything. He sets the paint of the counter. “I’ll give you 10% off, this being your first and all.” I thank him and pay.
The sun sets and I am covered in blue paint. I walk downstairs as Cynthia drives up. I try to pretend I’m not excited for her to see the room, so I get a glass of water and sit down in the kitchen. Then get up, then sit down again. I really had no idea what to do with myself. She finally walks in, tired as all. She comes into the kitchen where I’m standing trying to figure out what to do with my hands. “Holy fuck, what a day. Everyone wanted to call everyone…” She sets her purse down. “So what do you want to do… Why are you covered in paint?” She asks. My excitement explodes and I grab her hand without saying a word. I race her upstairs and show her the room. “I thought light blue is both a girl and boy color, I mean I can paint it something else, I doubt I’ll get a discount. Also, John and Linda know now.” I try to catch my breath as I finish talking. With her lips to mine, I figure pale blue was okay.