Just a visit – 2/23

Helen scooped up the empty dishes and headed into the kitchen. Before her the two large windows looked out onto a gray and dreary sky.

“Just think of the view, Hank,” she said dreamily. The bare branches and brown grass shifted in her mind to a sloping white beach and surging blue surf.

“Think of the insurance premiums.” Hank lent over the table and fetched out the daily newspaper.

“We could find somewhere buffered. Somewhere safe from the weather. And really, how many storms really hit the tropics?”

Hank fluffed the pages. “Enough do.”

“Well, it would just be a tremendous place for the kids. You know how much Mary’s kids like the water.”

“I’ve already shoveled out enough money for that girl. We don’t need to be buying her beach front property.”

“No, no,” mused Helen as she started the tap. “She wouldn’t think about it like that. It would just be somewhere all the kids would enjoy visiting.”

“Helen…” Hank dropped the newspapers on to his lap.

She glanced over at him with an innocent expression on her face. “Yes, dear.”

“You know how expensive it would be.”

“But this place is expensive and way too big for us now.” Her soapy hand waved over the faded walls and bulky furniture. “If we found some place with room for us and maybe a guest room, I bet it would be even cheaper. Think of all the money we’d save on heat!”

“Think of how much we’d spend on air conditioning.”

“Oh pooh.” She clucked and her gray hair bobbed as she turned back to the sink. “We could open the windows and the breezes would come through and cool the place right down.”

Hank grunted and pulled the newspaper up again like a barrier between them.

“There’d be bugs,” he grumbled.

“Actually, Sara says they hardly have any.”

“Sara?”

“Sara Guterman. Arnold’s wife.” Helen squeezed out the sponge and started scrubbing. “They have a timeshare down on the Texas Gulf coast. Sounds lovely.”

With a flick of his wrist, Hank rustled the paper again.

“Didn’t you see the beautiful postcard they sent?”

Hank firmly kept his lips shut. They both knew the brightly colored card was dangling from a magnet on the refridgerator. It’s blue sky, white sand and greenery was nestled at eye height above the grandkids crayon drawings that were still creased from being folded in the mail.

Helen shook her hands out, speckling the silver sink with soapy suds. She wiped off her damp fingers on a dish towel and turned towards the adorned refridgerator. With her calloused fingers she plucked the card free and shuffled back to her seat by Hank’s side.

A sigh came out of her chest.

“Did you get to read it?” She adjusted her wire frames as she sent her slightly cloudy eyes down the flowing script. “They invited us to visit anytime.”

Hank grunted in a way that carefully avoided any actual comment.

“Be a great chance to check out the area.” She read through the card once more then laid it gently on the table, picture side up. It rested on the other side of the newspapers hard center crease. She rose again and headed back towards the dishes.

Hank flipped down one corner of the paper and glanced at the card. With a frown he turned back to the pages. “Can’t travel in this weather.”

“No, of course not.” Helen stood for a moment, her hand lingering over the faucet. “That’s why I told them we’d be down in the spring.”

With a flick of her own wrist she started a rush of water that drowned out Hank’s frown and filled the silence made by his gaping mouth. Helen’s tendrils bobbed merrily and she turned victoriously back to the sink.

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