She imagined the scene a thousand times.
He would wake up, grab his work-out bag, walk out, get in his car, drive down the street.
She would stay in bed, engulfed in the cocoon of the early morning moonlight. The down-alternative comforter would keep away the chill that shimmied down to her toes. It was early fall and the cold that was her friend wasn't because of the weather. He had been a distant stranger sharing the same 2500 square feet. He was a pair of blue jeans on Saturday and suit on Monday. He shared space at their solid oak, friendship table, his face shielded behind his Dell laptop, the chomping of his eating like a hammer in her brain. The years they shared were seamless and the emotion they lacked seemed endless. She was certain now, it had to be now.
"Kayla!" His voice bellowed out from his upstairs office and felt like it was shaking the rafters.
"Yes?' She intentionally kept her voice normal. She hated it when he called her from his balcony office in the middle of the morning. The days he worked at home were the days he invaded her space. She always ended up being his unwilling assistant instead of spending time out in her studio working on her painting.
"Kayla?!" Did you hear me call you?" Raymond came down the stairs, his muscles rippling beneath the white t-shirt tucked into his full-legged jeans. There was something captivating about his 6'4" frame that commanded attention. "Honey, I called you, why didn't you answer?" He came into her corner of the dining room that served as her office.
"Raymond, I told you a thousand times that I will not respond to you yelling from upstairs. You can either come downstairs or call my office phone. This house isn't that big. Why are you working at home today anyway, it's not Thursday?"
"I'm sorry Kayla." He engulfed her 5'8" slim frame in his arms and brought her to his massive chest. She inhaled his scent and wondered if she would remember it.
"I forgive you, just don't do it again. What did you want anyway?"
"Well, I am tired of working on this proposal. Do you want to go have lunch?"
"Sure, let me finish up this sketch and it will be fun."
Kayla and Raymond had been married twenty years and had a certain rhythm to their marriage. They had six kids, all boys, and were getting to know themselves again. The twins, Roger and Raleigh, were freshman in high school. The eldest, Samuel, was in Paris with his Haitian-born wife and baby girl. The middle sons, James and David, were a year apart and almost as close as twins. All the boys inherited their parent's height genes and none of them played basketball to the chagrin of their high school and college coaches. Samuel is a writer and loves the ease of living in Europe. James and David decided to join the United States Navy and are serving together in Japan. Each of the brothers is over 6'4" and cause lots of gawking when they are out on leave. The baby boy, Jonathan, was in first grade and is the surprise baby. Secretly, Kayla thought this last one would be her much-wanted daughter. She wouldn't find out the sex and as her pregnancy wore on, somehow, she knew this was a male-child kicking inside her. Jonathan is every bit the muse that his mother is and spends much of his free-time playing around with paints or the pottery wheel in the studio.
Raymond adored his boys. There was a great beam of pride that danced around the twinkle of his eyes whenever they were all together. Kayla always thought it was a testament of his prowess that he produced six sons. Raymond definitely had bragging rights with his fraternity brothers. Kayla loved her boys; they always rallied around their mother and kept sampling from the pots and pans on the stove. Her family loved to eat and all their friends somehow knew when the culinary fires were burning at 311 Summit Avenue. Kayla was known for her cuisine and more than one of her adopted sons suggested she open her own restaurant. "No, I am only the chef of the deGui family!" They smiled and knew there wasn't a price to be paid for all the love in their mother's kitchen.
Yet, Kayla was empty inside. She chastised herself whenever she felt the engulfing darkness and thought of herself as being selfish. Her husband did love her, her boys adored her, her paintings made her independently wealthy, she was surrounded by the colors that made happiness dance in her heart, what more could she want? "Mystery, romance, hope," she answered herself as she grabbed one of her many pashminas to drape around her flowing white tunic and billowing pants. Kayla's favorite style was "easy and breezy" she would say. It infused the many ethnicities she cherished and allowed her free spirit to reign "unconfirmed to some designer's whim," she would respond.
"Do you want to drive? I was thinking of staying on the square and having a cappachino at the bookstore after lunch," Raymond protectively put his hand on the small of his wife's back as they walked through the stained glass door of their home.
"Sure, I can drive."
They walked hand in hand to the little Toyota Prius that was her "getaway" car now that there were only three children at home. They lived close to everything and being mostly natural and organic people, preferred to walk most places. The van rested in their garage for Sundays and trips to explore the country.
Kayla calculated in her head how long lunch would last and how long it would be until Jonathan came home from school. The twins had French Club after school and would ride their bikes home. Kayla knew Jonathan was walking home with his best friend, Giovanna. They would be home from school at 4pm. Would that be enough time for today to be the actual day? She wondered as she pulled the car out the driveway and turned east toward downtown. Perhaps this plan would just be a fantasy and she would go on being the wife of a successful international businessman and matriarch of an all-male household. Wasn't there more, shouldn't there be more for her? She was 45 years old and wondered if she had lived her total life. She sighed.
"What's wrong honey?" Raymond looked at her through his dark, square glasses.
"Oh, nothing, I was just thinking about…well, nothing really." She had to be careful; she didn't want to let on that she was not happy.
She thought she better be more careful with her thoughts. She was so transparent that most people said they could read her face. Her joy was exuberant when it lit up her eyes and seemed to cause the red and gold undertones in her brown dred locs to glow. When she was sad, it was hard for her eyes to open to their full, almond and when she was angry, there was a fire that threatened to boil water. Even after all these years, she was still so free with her emotions that she couldn't phantom false ones.
The bistro was in the heart of downtown and they loved the cobblestoned streets and quaint businesses. No Wal*Mart in this downtown. There were bustling small businesses that added such character to the town. Kayla loved living here; she would miss it when she was gone.