Ann Huchingson | Lakshmy Mathur
It was a frog in his throat, Scout had tried to explain, that kept him from saying, “I love you.” A frog that kept him from pouring his heart out to her. It just lived in there, crammed between his uvula and his larynx, shutting off all communication that might further their relationship.
He had burnt the toast again, Sally noticed, even though she had squeezed the orange juice and scrambled the eggs. She couldn’t believe that she had ever listened to this flimsy chatter of his, that she had once upon a time believed he was wounded, like a hunted bear cub crashing through the forest and then halted in his tracks by a demonic speeding bullet zinging by the trees to hit him squarely in the heart, that he was incapable of behaving, well, human.
“More jam?” she asked, reaching across the table to help herself to the pepper. “Or butter?”
He shook his head, no, and wondered again if she was looking older or if it was just the light. He gulped down his eggs; the Mustang was waiting. He planned to rewire the entire dashboard. He loved to work on his car, loved the heavy feel of solid metal under his hands, the clank clank clank of his wrench against the cement each time he dropped it, the soft buzz of the AM radio station that played oldies while he worked.
He used his thumb to wipe away the last of the ketchup from his plate. What a glorious day, he thought, as he stood up to clear his plate.
Much like he was in a hurry, Sally supposed, probably to get to his beloved car. She thought she might vomit if he made one more loving, adoring remark about his Mustang.
“Well, I’m going to see my sweet baby in the garage,” he said. He rubbed his hands together, reveling in the day of tinkering ahead of him.
“Enjoy yourself,” Sally said. She thought about the way he cracked his knuckles every morning and woke her up with the sound of bones creaking and rolling all over themselves, the way he dripped water from the sink clear across the entire kitchen floor, the way he left the grease from his car under his fingernails sometimes for days, and picked up her purse. “Really,” she said.
What’s all this about? he thought, watching her walk out the door. He wanted to call out to her, but that would mean hours of “communication” and no Mustang. Frankly, he was tired of too much talk. He just wanted to work with his hands.