Published in Adelaide Literary Magazine, November, 2018.
Excerpt from “Appointment in Zanesville”

Bustling more than usual this morning, Thelma sets the omelet platter down hard before me and deftly slides an omelet into my plate, then one into hers, without looking at me. In the perfect silence the omelets sound as if they’d fallen from the ceiling. It’s about me reading the newspaper at breakfast again? I lower the paper halfway. “If the paper irritates you, it gives me a start on the day. Do you mind too much?” 

“Your business gives us too little spare time.”

“Your business she says.”

True, hers is our home. She’s holding back. Deflect. “Excellent omelet again.” She’s done omelets for years, hard to make bad omelets. At worst, you get scrambled eggs. “Perfect coffee, too.” 

It ought to be, with a two thousand dollar coffee maker. Something on her mind. She ventures, “Did you sleep well?” 

I must look bleary. Not what I want to think about. “Fine. You?”

I recognize her strenuously bland tone. “I slept well, under the circumstances.” 

Circumstances? The word wakes me up and turns me off at the same time. True? I couldn’t tell, with my back to her, instantly asleep. “Midweek, I need to crash early.”

Not the greatest excuse and she doesn’t buy it. “Those long days of yours must be dreadful.”

I hear a little empathy in the words, less than usual. Irony? She knows the demands of my work. “I’m too busy to notice.” 

“We both have long days. The boys will be up soon. I’ll have to get them ready, drive them to school…” She continues talking while, unhearing, I nod and turn to the business page. Then a slight edge to her tone alerts me she is watching me. She has a rhetorical question I’ve heard before: “Is this another of our talks where I do all the talking?”

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