my ten minutes

I’m sitting on the front steps, a friend’s olive drab coat thrown over my apron, having the first cigarette in a few days. My kids are inside playing peaceably, for now. I should be inside, cleaning. Detritus from lunch (spaghetti, carrot sticks, peanut butter) litter the table and floor. It will be the second time in a handful of hours I have planned, prepared, served, and cleaned up after a meal. Thank God we’re going out to Mexican food tonight as a Thanksgiving celebration of sorts with friends. No dinner dishes.

My neighbor across the street pulls up in his gleaming forest green 4Runner. I never see it dirty. I wonder if I’ll ever have a life like that: new home, impeccable yard, reliable vehicle. The van needs its brakes done and my yard is scraggly with crabgrass and dead sunflowers. However our heat and phone are working and my kids are happy. I’m good.

Inside the house, I hear my boy scream; I cock an ear. Happy babble resumes. Maybe I can finish my cigarette break. I watch my neighbor silently roll into his driveway. He checks the garbage can to see if it’s been picked up yet. Very responsible of him. He was a sniper in the military, special-ops he tells me. Now he lives alone, kids grown. I bring him cookies, apple pie every once in a while.

Inside the house is warm; it smells inviting and a burner hums on the stove (what I’d used to light my cig). I pour myself a cup of coffee. My husband, no matter how hectic his morning is, makes me a fresh pot of coffee for the day. One of my many small comforts.

Time to set out clothes for the kids’ post-bath. Scrub cemented noodle off the floor and process a dirty diaper so foul It-Shall-Not-Be-Named. Three more hours until my husband gets home and I get some adult company.

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