The Last Thing She Expected - John Fetto

The salmon was on top of the wine and the other groceries and as she walked the bag would slip so that she’d have to stop and shift it back up on her hip, and the very expensive bit of fish would wobble on top so that she had to be careful it didn’t flop onto the sidewalk. Home and Hawley were just a few blocks ahead.

She was going to cook a special dinner for Hawley because tonight was a special day, and there wasn’t going to be an argument about it. Hawley would be out in the driveway, fussing with his blue chevy pickup doing god knows what, but really sulking. He wanted her to let him take it back, the promise he’d made about what they’d get to make if he got a job. And he’d gotten a job, but since he started working as a night watchman he’d been even stranger, mumbling about what they were doing and how it wasn’t right. Now he’d be sulking underneath the blue Chevy, banging metal with his tools, wanting her to take it back, to say no they didn’t have to do it now, later would be good enough.

Each step she took closer to the house, her steps got stronger. She was going to hold her ground. Just as soon as he got a job, that was the deal. She wouldn’t get mad. She didn’t want to make a baby out of anger. She’d let him sulk be off in his garage doing god knows what while she cooked the fish and made the rice and potatoes. She’d leave the kitchen window open so he’d smell and after a half hour or so her not barging in and picking a fight, he’d smell the food and wander into the kitchen. It would give him something else to talk about and so he’d talk and then he’d sit and eat, and she’d poor the wine. She could see how it all would happen. She kept replaying it in her head all the way up to the house, then she looked at driveway and saw the last thing she expected. Nothing. Nothing but empty gravel with dirt pushing up along the ruts. Hawley’s truck was gone. So was Hawley.