By D.M. Wright
“Why aren’t you eating at your own house?” The middle one asks our guest, oh, so politely.
I look at the nice neighbor man apologetically.
“Your Mom invited me over as a thank you for un-clogging the toilet. Are you the one that clogged it? I found a toy in the pipe.” He raises an eyebrow at him. Well-played, Sir.
We all look at the kid for an answer. He just looks at his plate silently. Uh-huh! As I suspected. That little monster.
“Bah!” Food comes flying from the high chair to the middle of the table, which in turn creates giggles from everyone.
“That was delicious,” the neighbor man grins. “I could get used to this.” He pats his belly.
I smile back at him, “I’m glad you enjoyed it.”
He helps clear the table and we start to wash the dishes.
“More wine?” I pick up the bottle, “We can’t leave an open bottle left un-drunk.” I pour the rest in our glasses. “I think it’s illegal.” I turn back to the sink. “So, what’s your story?”
“How do you mean?” he takes dishes from me and loads the dishwasher. This man keeps getting more gorgeous.
“From where do you hail, Sir Knight-in-Shining-Armor?” I grin.
He grins back and is quiet for a moment. I look at him inquisitively.
“Sorry. I rarely see you smile,” he says, “It’s nice. You have a nice smile. Love those dimples.” He smiles again when I blush.
“When do you see me do anything?” I try to recover from my embarrassment.
“Oh, I see you and the boys come and go. Generally you look tired. Aggravated. Harried. Frowny.”
I frown at him.
“Oh, don’t do that!” He laughs, “I completely see why you appear that way.”
“What way…a mess?” I snort. “My kids are a mess. My life is a mess. And I am a mess.”
“A hot mess,” he agrees with a wink.
“Gee thanks,” I gulp my wine. “Didn’t even know I was being observed, stalker man.” I accuse him.
“Not stalking. Just passing by. You hardly ever notice me. You are wrapped up in the boys,” he tells me. “And I get it. They are a handful. And I can see how they can drive a sane person crazy,” he laughs.
“Full of comfort and compliments, aren’t ya?” I smile at him.
“This is probably none of my business. Actually, it is completely none of my business, but where is your husband? I mean, do you even have one? I have yet to see him.”
“He works a lot,” I shrug. “We don’t see him much either.” I change the subject. “How about you? Do you have a significant other?”
“Once upon a time. We split up a few years ago. She was…not right…for me,” he shakes his head.
“I’m sorry,” I glance at him, sorry to bring up painful times.
“What’s done is done. I am free now. It’s a relief.”
“That must be nice,” I whisper.
“Sorry?” He leaned in closer.
There’s that smell again. I inhale deeply. “I said you smell nice.” I smile nervously at him, realizing how close he is.
“Oh, thanks,” he swallows and clears his throat.
“Is that like, cologne or something?” I whisper.
“Or something,” he confirms softly. We stare into each others eyes. Blue. Deep, mesmerizing blue eyes.
“Mommy, I’m thirsty!”
We quickly break apart.
“So get some water,” I stare at the kid. I still haven’t forgiven him for the toilet incident. Plus, he always says I am mean. And he just ruined a moment! He doesn’t know what mean is.
I hand him a cup so he can get himself water from the pitcher in the fridge. “Tell your brother it’s time to get pj’s on, ok?”
“Yes, Mommy,” he finishes his water and heads for his room.
“He seems really sweet sometimes.” The neighbor man volunteers.
“He is a sweet kid. He is also loud-mouthed, opinionated and has unfortunate precision timing,” I sigh and shake my head. “I wish I could be more like him.”
He laughs loudly. I startle and look at him. He is cracking up, totally getting a good chuckle out of that.
I giggle, “Sad, but true.”
Kids are all asleep. Dishes are done. It’s that quiet, bewitching hour.
“So, it’s after nine. I guess I should go. I’ve a long trip home.” He smiles.
“You sure do!” I laugh.
“Seriously…where’s your husband? What’s your story?” He frowns.
“He works a lot. He leaves before I am up. He comes home after I go to bed. The kids haven’t seen him in days.” I shrug.
“Are you sure he’s even coming home?” He’s shocked.
“There are tell-tale signs: clothes in the hamper, wet tooth-brush, damn hairs in the sink from shaving…you know,” I frown, too. “Clearly I am just a live-in maid at this point.”
“I’m sorry,” he puts a hand on mine.
“Thanks,” I smile. “Somehow I manage.”
“Well, you know where to find me if you need anything.” He gets up for the door.
“And if you’re ever hungry for a home-cooked meal…come on up.”
“Thanks! You’re going to regret that offer, I can tell you that.” He grins and with a little wave, he is gone.
“Knock, knock, Mama.”
“No! No biting….no! OW, damn it!” I yank my finger out of his mouth. Little teeth marks now mar my finger on both sides.
“Knock, knock, Mama.”
“You are a brute!” I scowl at the baby, “Naughty baby!” I am trying to feed him pieces of a jelly sandwich.
“Knock, knock, Mama!” This middle one is incessant.
“Maybe no one is home! Did you ever stop to think about that. huh? Why do you keep knocking if no one is home??” I ask, exasperated. My finger is smarting.
“Mom! Just answer!”
“Knock, knock, Mama!”
“Who’s there, child?!”
I look at him pointedly. “Interrupting c–”
“MOOOOO!” He shouts before I can finish my line. He collapses into giggles and hysteria.
The baby giggles, too, and says, “Moo!”
I can’t keep the grin off my face. “You guys are SO mean!” But I laugh.