We were well through the second verse of “Yankee Doodle Dandy” when everything went dark. I came to and found myself on the cool linoleum floor of the Sunnyside Senior Center. Outside it was another hot day in the hundreds.
Holding her breath, she waited for her husband of seven years to get out of the way. He stood in front of the Keurig, fussing over which noon flavor was best. She just wanted to put her lunch salad together. Time was short and now he was a road block.
Her video conference call was in forty-two minutes, a fact lost on her husband of seven years. Blechhhhh. The Keurig spewed French Roast into his glass mug, upon which were etched the words “Stay Cozy.”
He drank from the cup every day but refused to wash it, which made no sense to her. Now there was a brownish coffee glaze forming at the bottom of the mug. When asked about the residue, he’d say “It adds to the flavor.”
She looked at the green LED clock on the microwave oven above the stove. Thirty-eight minutes until her meeting. Her husband shuffled off from his Keurig corner, then turned to smile at her, apologizing with his eyes. She forced a smile and pictured how the next seven years would go.
They sat in the canteen of McMurdo Research Station, neither of them daring to make eye contact. No one had spoken for several minutes, the air between them empty and lifeless.
He studied their reflection in the stainless steel lunch tray in front of him. It was over, he could sense it. The passion that once consumed them had now run cold, unlike the Antarctic ice caps slowly melting around them.
“We can’t be together anymore,” she said.
“What are you talking about?” he said.
“It’s not you, it’s me,” she said.
“It’s Craig, isn’t it? You’re sleeping with Mr. Blonde Wonderboy, right? I should’ve known transferring to this godforsaken place was a bad idea,“ he said.
“I was honest with you,” she said.
“How long until I can transfer off this iceberg?” he said.
She looked at him. He knew the protocols. “Three months. Sleep in your own bunk.”
He stood up to bus his tray. His other prospects were grim.
Lincoln and Pico is my intersection, but the jackass across the way doesn’t know that yet. You think he understood what he was getting into when he took that corner? He’s messing with the 2019 World Sign Spinning champion and before the end of day, he will know my name.
You’re up next in line at FYE when an older gentleman cuts in front of you. Where did he come from? He wasn’t there a second ago.
He’s balding, with oval shaped glasses. What little hair is left flows out from his scalp in curly, gray clumps. His red collared shirt and suspenders look familiar to you, but it’s tough to place him.