Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 - Advanced)
Topic: Empty Nester/Retirement (from work) (09/10/09)
TITLE: Morning for Two
By Sara Harricharan
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Pausing by the edge of the kitchen counter, two small, sugar-coated pastries were dug out from the depths of the pumpkin-shaped cookie jar. Shira licked the sticky raspberry filling off one finger, balancing the tray on the edge of the counter. A smile quirked across her face and she scooped up the wooden tray, heading for the living room. Her smile twitched to a frown as she continued down the honey-cream tinted walls.
He was sitting on the sofa, a tiny waft of steam rising from over his left shoulder. Shira smiled. “Morning, babe.” She handed over the tray, easing onto the sofa beside him.
There was a grunt in reply and the tray was then neatly settled on her lap. Shira hid a smile. “No toast?”
“You didn’t taste it yet.”
“Try mine.” The cup was handed over, the tray taken from surprised hands.
Shira delicately sipped the brew, the expressions on her face slowly weaving together into a delightful mix mirroring the experience. “Nice.”
“Nice?” The cup was immediately retrieved and the tray returned to the original hands. “It’s good coffee, Shi.”
“As good as the one you promised to take me out for?”
“It’s my first weekend of retirement, you said you’d let me stay in the first weekend.”
“Did I say that?” Shira leaned forward to snuggle closer. “Mmmm…remind me to book the rest of your weekends.”
The first smile of the morning slipped through. “I see. That micromanaging business of yours?”
“It paid the bills, love.”
“Should I get ready?”
“Thirty minutes…give or take a few.”
“Thanks for the toast.”
“You didn’t touch it.” Shira rested her head on his shoulder, enjoying the simple comfort of having him closer than usual. “I’ll wear my little red shoes. Next week?”
There was a pause, then one pajama-clad arm curved around her shoulders. “Actually, I’m free this weekend. Rumors say I’ve retired-like you.”
“Yes and I seem to see a slot in my calendar marked for ‘coffee with wife’ think I should follow the plan?”
“Sounds like a good plan.”
He laughed, setting the cup on the coffee table. Honey-goober eyes warmed and sparkled as they fixed on her, a gaze that swept from her bed-head hair to scruffy bedroom slippers. “I’m glad you like it.”
“How’s it feel?” Shira snagged a roll from the tray and nibbled one end, tearing off a half to offer it over.
“Weird. Strange. Different.” The words came out short and chopped. “Feels awful.”
He took the half offered and promptly dunked it in his coffee, taking a bite out of the soggy remains. “Worse.”
“I know. You’re dunking again.”
He half-smiled. “Thirty-years in undercover work, Shi.” He scoffed. “I don’t have anything I’d want to show for it.”
“You did a lot of good, helped a lot of people.”
“Saw a lot of things I didn’t want to, have so much information in my head about what goes on without someone to keep an eye on the whole mess, that I still can’t walk out of the house without wanting to-”
“I don’t mind.”
“But it bothers you.”
“Normal people don’t walk around with guns when they don’t need them.”
“What about retired people?”
“Not quite retired…yet.”
“They called you back?”
“I'll always be on standby.”
“I’m sorry, Shira.”
“You don’t mind?”
“How could I? As long as you're retired to take me out for coffee, you can standby all you want. You’re my hero, babe.” Shira leaned over and kissed him softly on the cheek.
The arm around her shoulders shifted to hook around her neck. He pulled her closer and planted a kiss in her hair.
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