Written with my Thursday group with the prompts: he loved babies and small children, you are in a hotel room, playing with fire, go hang a salami I’m a lasagna hot, I wonder what heaven looks like, smell this, all heads turned as he went by, the wind has to stop, don’t believe everything you think, five wives, a fireplace!—let’s build a fire
After church, Tommy—her youngest—asked Carrie what heaven looked like. The first thing that popped into Carrie’s head was the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel, an old man God reaching out to zap Adam with an index finger. If there was one thing Carrie was sure of, it was that heaven did not look like that. “I don’t know,” she told the kids as they tumbled into the car. “What do you think heaven looks like?”
Jamie, who was almost a teenager, helped strap Tommy into his car seat. “I don’t know what heaven looks like,” he said, “but it smells like Mom’s lasagna.” They all laughed, and studious Beth announced, “Go hang a salami, I’m a lasagna hog!” That set off a whole range of giggles and shrieks as Beth explained her strange statement was a palindrome. Then she had to explain what a palindrome was, and soon they were arguing video games vs books, word puzzles vs team sports, hopes for the school spelling bee, etc. etc. Carrie could tune them all out as she pulled the car from the parking lot into traffic.
For Carrie, heaven had been and always would be a night years ago in a fancy hotel. “A fire place!” her beloved had exclaimed. “Let’s build a fire.” It was s scene from every sappy romance novel come to life: chocolates and brandy, rose scented massage oil, silk sheets, and a down comforter; outside the sound of the ocean, the scent of redwoods. She was way too young, and this fantasy-come-true man was older, much older. It hadn’t occur to her to wonder then why he wouldn’t want to be with a woman his own age. She knew now he wasn’t mature enough to be with a woman who might match him in intellect and experience. Still it was a magical memory for her, a perfect night in so many ways. She heard he was on his 5th wife now. She hand’t known it, but he was on wife #2 back then. Oh, she thought, let it go. Don’t believe everything you think.
She pulled onto their street, and all heads turned as a motorcycle sped by them. The rider gave her a salute and she grinned at him. The kids squealed as they followed him to their driveway, their agnostic father who weekly declined to accompany them to Sunday mass. As usual he had donuts for the kids, a big kiss and a mocha latte for Carrie. He was the wind that had driven Carrie to this suburban ranch house a decade and a half ago when she was done playing with fire. He loved babies and small children, and that was enough for her. He was her day-to-day. Who cared about heaven?—he made her happy to be grounded on Earth.
Photo by Tim Mossholder on Unsplash