Amanda comes home

She arrives home at about 7:30 after happy hour with friends.

I am in the sun room, reading a book. I listen to her go through her usual entry routine: she sets her briefcase down, rifles through the mail on the table in the front hallway, walks through the atrium and living room, then stops briefly in the kitchen. I hear her then go to the east wing of the house where our bedrooms are.

I stand from the settee where I’ve been sitting. I wait there imagining Amanda hopefully seeing the newly made bed with clean sheets, and the empty laundry basket, and then her shoes set out, cleaned and polished. I am hopeful, though I cannot allow myself to expect a miracle.

I do hear Amanda opening one of her dresser drawers, then another. Perhaps she is seeing her clean clothes, folded.

I wait. Nothing. I hear her in the bathroom.

Disappointed, I sit down again, pick up my book, although my mind has no capacity for reading right now.

It’s maybe ten minutes later, and I hear Amanda leave her bathroom and open her closet door. I presume she is changing into something to lounge in for the evening.

Minutes later, she calls, “Shae.”

I cannot detect from her voice what her frame of mind is. I call out in response, “Yes, ma’am!”

I quickly make my way toward the east wing, and come to the doorway of the drawing room. She stands in the doorway on the other side.

“You washed sheets and made the bed,” she states.

“Yes, ma’am.” I cannot read her tone or demeanor.

And you did my laundry.”

“Yes, ma’am.”

She pauses for the longest time. “Thank you,” she finally says. “You didn’t have to do that.”

“I know.”

She nods, now in appreciation. “And you polished my shoes.”

“Yes, ma’am.”

“I hope you didn’t clean them with your—”

“No, I chose the more traditional way,” I say.

“Thank god,” she says, now tilting her head and forming a slight smile. “I’ve been concerned you’d get sick from all the dirt and crap you ingested.”

“I’ve been praying there was no actual crap involved.”

We stand in silence, just looking at each other. I so want there and then to run across the room into her arms. But that would be a Hallmark movie (their new lesbian series), not real life.

“Shae, I’m tired,” she says, “I want to lie down on the sofa in the sun room. I want to read or just fall asleep. I don’t want to talk.”

“Yes, ma’am. I’ll take my book into my bedroom. I can read there.”

“No, I want you to sit on the floor beside me.”

I nod, my heart soaring. “I would like that.”

“I just don’t want to talk about anything.”

“I understand. I’ll try to keep my silent reading especially silent.”

She laughs. It feels so good to hear her laugh again.

In fact, we do just that. She reads her book a while as I sit on the floor beside her reading mine. She then sets her book down, sighing deeply from her long day. And her difficult week. As she falls asleep, she fingers my hair, coiling a strand from my shoulder around her index finger.

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