“Does this dress look good on me?” Cynthia asked.
Cynthia’s growl brought me up from the notes and straightened me off the door jamb. “What?”
“Hmmm is not an answer. Did you even hear what I said?”
“I didn’t say it doesn’t look good.”
“You didn’t say it does either.”
Before I could protest, Cynthia had tossed the garment onto the massive pile covering our queen sized bed. She disappeared into the closet.
“Cynthia, sweetie, I need to be at the men’s Bible study early this morning or at least on time. Pastor will never ask me to lead it again.”
No response. I dodged behind my shaking notes.
“Carl? Are you going to answer me?”
A quick look at my watch told me I needed to be as enthusiastic as possible. “Yeah, Baby, it does. Absolutely.”
Her eyebrows bushed together. She says the thicker style is in. Not that I ever asked.
“I can’t believe it. You’re not hearing a word I say. I just asked you if this dress makes me look fat.”
A tornado roaring through the house would help, but a car horn saved me instead. My mother-in-law. My hero.
“Who could that be?” Cynthia stretched over the window seat to peer out, one bare foot stuck out behind her.
“I asked your mom to swing by and pick you up if we hadn’t left yet. Honey, I gotta go…”
Cynthia swung back around and a look I couldn’t quite place filled her blueberry eyes. “But -”
A knock at the door interrupted her words. I smacked a kiss on Cynthia’s forehead, scooting away before she could fuss about how I just smeared her make-up.
“I’ll see you at church, Baby.” The edge of the door frame met my face. I bounced off it and ran through the living room to let my rescuer in.
“Glad you made it, Carl.” A grin split Pastor Mark’s face as he glanced at the wall clock of the tiny room reserved for the men’s Sunday morning Bible study.
Thankful my neck was already beet red from haying the pasture all the day before, I shook the pastor’s hand with a stiff smile. Somehow I was able to hold my notes and Bible still enough to present my devotion.
“How do I look?” Cynthia whispered as we bumped through the crowded aisle to our usual row in the sanctuary.
“Baby, I told you at the house, that dress is great on you.”
Her pined lips had me wishing for a tornado again. “This isn’t the dress I had on.”
She sat next to her mother. I sat next to mine. Our fathers had tears trickling down their cheeks as they suppressed their laughter during the opening worship service.
Cynthia grabbed my hand with the final Amen. “Carl-”
“Great job this morning, Carl.” Sims, a neighbor who also attended our church, pumped my arm.
When I could pry away, I absently turned to Cynthia. “What is it, Baby?”
“I-” She looked past me at the men still waiting to talk. She sighed and shook her head. “I’m riding home with Mom.”
After the handshakes and chit chats, I caught up with my dad and learned Cynthia had already left.
“I guess I’d better get on home.”
“I would.” The twinkle in my dad’s eye made me smile.
“You and Mama went through all the same stuff, didn’t you?”
“Does it get any easier?”
“You get better at guessing.”
Opening my truck door I grimaced at the objects lying in the seat. I recognized Grandpa’s old hearing aid and Granny’s tiny speckles.
“Okay, Cynthia, get everyone to gang up on me. I get the message.” I gingerly moved the antiques to the passenger side, hoisting myself into the crew cab. My eyes riveted to the rearview mirror. Or rather what was tape to it, dangling down as big as life. Literally.
An infant sized diaper smiled at me, a note protruding from one of its tiny leg openings. Scrawled in Cynthia’s bold style were the words:
Can you hear me now?
Sometimes I’m a little slow, but it only took an instant for the message to have my mouth gaping.
I got a speeding ticket on the way home. I just wished I’d remembered to take the diaper down.
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