it was closer to 7:00 than his 5:30 promise.
she sat facing the door, on the sofa they’d picked out last summer at an estate sale.
in a well rehearsed pose, her arms were crossed, her face set, her eyes resting on nothing in particular.
he opened the storm door and fumbled for his keys after realizing the front door was locked. she remained on the sofa.
he fit key into door, fought his way over the threshold with two armfuls of brown paper bags, and used his heel and then backside to close the door behind him.
he paused upon seeing her well rehearsed pose, glanced at the clock on the far wall of the living room, and whispered a near-coherent, ‘oh, it’s almost seven.’ a quiet ‘mhm’ was her response.
he shuffled to the kitchen table, set down the bags, and began unpacking. from the living room, she said, ‘i only asked for one thing. what on earth took you so long, and why do you have two bags?’
he stopped unpacking and looked at his feet.
‘honey, why do you have two bags?’
one shoelace was slightly askew, he noticed.
‘i’m not upset, you were just later than you said you’d be, and i don’t know why you have two bags. what were you doing?’
he inhaled through his nose and said,
‘i couldn’t remember which one you asked for, so i got ours and all of jupiter’s, too, just to be sure.’
he decided the shoelace wasn’t so bad that it required retying.
at his response, she found herself straddling a line of irritation and genuine endearment (which is what love often feels like, yes?). she stood, shaking her head and smiling, and helped him finish unpacking.