ANN LEWIS HAMILTON
“Pajama jeans are super comfortable,” she says.
He doesn’t look up from his Sudoku. “I would think so. Since you’ve been wearing them every single day.”
“I’m not wearing the same ones. These are boot cut.” She shakes her leg at him. “See? Boot cut.”
He nods, but he isn’t paying attention. “I thought you were going to work in the guest room today.”
“I have a conference call in an hour. I thought I’d sit here with you in the kitchen. I could make coffee.”
“That’s okay. I’m going to make it later.”
He taps the pen against his lip.
“Careful,” she says. “You don’t know where that pen has been. I could disinfect it for you.”
“It’s fine, I got it out of the pen jar.”
“I cleaned all the pens two days ago, but I was going to clean them again later this morning.”
“I’m sure they’re fine,” he says. “Since nobody’s been in our house for two weeks.”
“It doesn’t hurt to be safe.” She has become the Queen of Disinfecting. A spray bottle of Clorox Clean-Up Cleaner + Bleach both upstairs and downstairs. Of course that was back when you could find Clorox products in the store. Endless shelves of cleaners and hand sanitizer and toilet paper. Will those days come back again? Maybe yes, maybe no.
“Do you know how many squares are in roll of toilet paper?” she asks him.
“You’re right. Why don’t you tell me?”
She’s never noticed how small his mouth is when he clenches his lips together.
“Four hundred and five. I counted. Do you know how many sheets are in a roll of paper towels? The Pick-a-Size ones, the ones with the lumberjack on them. I wonder where they came up with the name lumberjack. Obviously the word lumber. But what about women lumberjacks, what are they called? And why aren’t they on paper towels? There’s a market somebody should go after. Lumber jills. A pretty woman in a flannel shirt on the package – not showing cleavage or anything, just an attractive athletic woman. What do you think? And instead of Brawny, we’ll call them – what’s a good word for women and strength? Intrepid. No. Better than intrepid. Brave? Badass. Yes, badass towels. That’s genius.”
She waits for him to say something. He’s looking at her, not smiling. “Two weeks,” he says. “It feels longer.”
“After my conference call, maybe I’ll help you with your Sudoku. Or we could find a great Sudoku site online and play each other. Like a tournament. Doesn’t that sound fun? Or we could do a home scavenger hunt. Or – I love this idea – have you seen those people recreating great works of art? What would be a great one? The Creation of Adam, Michelangelo, Sistine Chapel. What else? Okay, Manet’s Luncheon on the Grass. I know there are only two of us, but we could use the dogs, how cute would that be? I love this idea, we’re going to have such a great time.”
She gives him a kiss on the top of his head. He smells faintly of bleach.
Ann Lewis Hamilton is a writer living in California.