Eight O’clock

Your pee is yellower than mine, she said. She was off the phone now, and he was in the shower.

What? His head emerged at the side of the shower curtain.

Why didn’t you flush the toilet? she asked.

His head disappeared again, and she put the toilet cover down and sat on it. The mirror needed cleaning.

Who were you talking to? he asked.

My brother. Did you wash your hair yet?

I’m starting now. What did he say?

I think I’ll go to bed, she said. The mirror was coated in condensation now.

Kath, it’s like eight o’clock.

Maybe we’ll go away for the weekend, she said.

Sure, if you want, he said. Where do you want to go?

She closed the door carefully behind her, but she knew that he could hear her leave. He wouldn’t slip his head out to look, but maybe he’d wash his face again, by mistake.

In the bedroom, the strange light of dusk made green things look yellow. It wasn’t eight o’clock yet, and the bed was unmade.  She considered changing the sheets but stood looking at the open blinds covering the windows. They were open but not pulled up. In the morning they would make bars on the floor as the sun tried to get in.

He came in from the shower and, looking at him, she wondered if she had put on weight, too.

It’s a nice night, he said. We should go for a walk.

No, she said. I want to go to bed.

He put his arms on her shoulders and they were damp and heavy. She bent her knees a little and waited. What did your brother say? he asked, and she pushed on his shoulders and backed away.

It was rainy there today, she said. She pulled a pair of shorts and a yellow top from the dresser and changed quickly as he pulled pants on. She hoped he wasn’t watching.

What else? he asked.

He saw my mom last week. Can we really go away this weekend?

Yeah, do you want to invite Tom and Lorraine?

No, let’s not go. I should clean up in the garden. We have so many weeds this year, she said.

He tugged at her hair but didn’t say anything.

She went around to the other side of the bed and examined her fingernails. Nick, I have a lot to do this weekend.

How did your brother say your mom was? he asked.

She’s fine. They’re fine. They’re all good, she said. She pulled a shred of skin from the side of her nail and dropped it on the floor while he rubbed his eyes. The curled piece of skin landed and she fixed her eyes on it.

Did your brother say if he and Sharon are going to come out here at all this summer? he asked.

They’re not. They’re going to have a baby, she said.

Once she thought whiskey referred to a cat with preciously long whiskers and that bonfire was a type of flower that grew along the beach, but she had learned otherwise before she met him. Now he stood there, drops of water behind his ears rolling toward his bare shoulders.

He said, I didn’t know that.

Her own cat’s whiskers had been short, and she wondered now, looking at the skin on the floor, if that was why she left her cat behind when she moved in with him.

Well, she said. They are. They’re going to have a baby.

Really, let’s go away this weekend. Just us. We can go down south a ways, he said.

They’re going to have a baby at the end of summer.

She picked up the shred of skin, hardened already, and tore it in half, then set both pieces on the nightstand. My mom, she said, and then clacked her teeth together.

It’s short notice, he said, but we could try to get that cabin we stayed in last fall.

Are you going to put a shirt on? she asked.

He stood looking at her, and she thought of the deep-coloured snapdragons in the back garden. They were something like what she thought bonfire should be. He turned and pulled a shirt from his drawer.

It smelled funny, she said. And there was nothing to do. We drank too much that weekend.

I thought you had a good time, he said.

I don’t care if they have a baby or not.

Hey, he said. It’s okay. Hey.

He pulled her face into his neck, and she let him.

Nick, when I was a kid, I thought that a dinette set was china with a sunset printed on it, and everyone in the world got married and got one.


Well, it makes sense. Dinette, sunset. You know. I thought everyone got one but that they weren’t all the same. I thought there were different variations, and I wanted one with lots of red.

We could try to find something like that, he said. But now he let go of her, walked toward the door, and stopped. He rocked back and forth over the squeaky floorboard just inside the bedroom. She stepped back, farther into the room.

It isn’t real, she said, rubbing her eyes. She pressed hard with her fingertips, and was relieved when spots clouded her vision.

We can get married, he said. He stood across the room and grabbed at a piece of fuzz floating through the air.

Maybe you should go for that walk.

We can get married. He opened his fist, and the fuzz drifted out.

I want to stay here by myself for a while, she said. Just a little walk?

He was quiet, and she hoped he wouldn’t say it again. Please, she said.

He walked out of the bedroom, and things that had looked yellow deepened to green. Her bed was green, and little green flecks, like seedling weeds, showed again in the rug. She changed her shirt and picked up the cordless next to the shreds of her skin.

Mom, she said when her mother picked up the other end. Did Kevin call you? Did he tell you about Sharon? She’ll be the mother and I’ll be the aunt and you can spoil your only grandchild. It’s going to be great.

She said it into the phone, but she listened for his breathing in the hall.

Jaclyn Watterson’s work has also appeared in The Fiddleback, elimae,, Sou’wester, and a few other places. She lives in Salt Lake City, Utah, though she prefers wetter climates.