Veronica leisurely strolled slowly down the aisle, checking things off her list after putting each item into the cart which, of course, had a wobbly wheel. She allowed Bryce to reach out and grab a few things as she pointed to them. She smiled as she recalled the first meal she made for Eddie in their new home as a married couple. She overcooked the roast and it was as tough as a boot. Eddie didn’t say anything that night, but took a very long time to chew it up. There would be plenty of future meals that prompted complaints from her husband, but not at first. She eventually perfected the pot roast and it became Eddie’s favorite meal. She intended tonight’s to be the very best. Doubt swirled around in her head, but she tried to see through the haze and focus on her task.
“Skittles!” Bryce declared as they were waiting in the checkout line.
Veronica almost immediately said no, but thought, why not? She grabbed the package of colored candy and tossed it onto the conveyor.
“What a cute boy,” the cashier said as she scanned the items.
Veronica smiled, though her expression was hidden behind a mask. She was grateful that her bruise was also hidden.
“Thank you,” she said. “He can be a handful, though.”
“I know that’s right,” the lady said. “I have three of them and I have to remind myself that they are a blessing.”
Veronica looked at Bryce lovingly and her determination started to emerge through the cloud of uncertainty that would rise subtly like a fog over a placid lake. As winter turns to spring, the air would turn white so unnoticeably, and yet there it would be. Mere droplets of moisture, appearing so discreetly, yet hindering your vision so completely. Bryce was her lighthouse during these times, guiding her to where she knew her destination to be. The fog lifted once again as she headed for home.
She timed everything perfectly. Eddie came home at the time dinner was almost ready and entered the house without slamming the door. She breathed a sigh of relief, but almost wished she’d heard the all-too-familiar sound; it helped to keep the fog at bay.
“Something smells good,” he said as he entered the kitchen.
“Pot roast,” she said. “Your favorite.”
“What’s the occasion?” he asked as he looked into the pot of mashed potatoes.
She smiled and shook her head. She hadn’t expected him to remember their anniversary, and it didn’t matter to her, anyway.
“Just felt like a special day,” she said simply.
After dinner, while Eddie was in the shower, Veronica placed a few lit candles around their bedroom and turned off the lights and closed the blinds. It was still light outside, but the mood was evident. The fog started to rise. She closed her eyes and took a deep breath. She opened them and her vision was clear, piercing through any mist of doubt.
She changed into a sexy negligee, retrieved a mirror from the nightstand to apply a touch of lipstick and then lay on the bed to wait for him. It wasn’t long before he entered the room and was stopped in his tracks.
“Oh!” he said. “I like where this is headed.”
They made love, which didn’t take long. The act was much more enjoyable for him than for his wife, which was typical for much of the past few years. Eddie fell asleep quickly afterward. As he lay there snoring, Veronica changed her clothes and threw a few things into her purse. At the side of the bed, she leaned down toward his face, dimly illuminated by the flickering candles, and kissed him on the cheek.
“Good night, Eddie,” she whispered.
She opened the door to Bryce’s room and said, “Come on, honey, we’re going to the park. But you have to be quiet; Daddy is sleeping.”
Bryce hopped up immediately and ran to get his shoes. Veronica grabbed a few items from his dresser drawer and stuffed them into her purse. She told Bryce to go to the car to wait, and before they were about to go out the door, she closed the doors to all of the rooms except their bedroom where Eddie was still snoring away. She then went to the kitchen and blew out the flames on the stove burners and then turned up the heat. She made sure the windows were closed and stopped briefly to look around at the walls. She let out a heavy breath and then left the house.
It was approaching evening, but the summer days were longer and dusk came a bit later. She drove the short distance to the city park, which was sparsely populated. She took a seat on a wooden bench while Bryce ran to the swingset.
She was finally able to collect herself and think. She was glad Eddie wasn’t able to taste the sleeping pills in the mashed potatoes. Again, the fog began to rise, blanketing her vision and again she closed her eyes and breathed deeply. Her eyes remained closed when she heard the explosion. Moments later, she heard the wailing sirens. When she opened her eyes, the fog had lifted.
Copyright © 2021 Brandon Ellrich