by M D Flyn
Emma wiped sweat from her brow with a shaking hand as she shoved the last load of clothes in the dryer. She slammed the door, and the machine hummed to life. She grabbed the full hamper and lugged it back to the bedroom. Her clothes went to the back of the closet. Emma stuffed Sophia’s clothes in the drawers. Noah’s clothes were folded or hung.
Emma dropped the empty hamper at the end of the hall and hurried back into the kitchen. She pulled her still-damp hair into a ponytail. She wiped the counters and mopped the kitchen.
She walked through the tidy living room, the toys in their box, the beaten couch wiped of juice spills and crumbs. She peeked out on the porch to make sure she had not missed the delivery drone. She checked the app, but it showed no issues, her package was out for delivery.
Emma sat. The couch sagged under her weight. Flicking through channels on the muted tv, she left it on a cooking channel. She sipped her ginger ale to settle her stomach. Her eyelids drooped as a baker on the tv frosted 183 cupcakes.
She jerked at the sound of a drone and leapt to open the door. The drone dropped a package on the porch and flew off again. Snatching the precious blue and white box, she closed the door and headed for the scissors in the kitchen.
Emma flinched and froze as a car pulled into the driveway. She took a couple spinning steps as she searched for a place to hide the package. She stuffed it in the toy box and sat back down as the door opened.
“Hi honey!” she greeted him with forced cheer. “What are you doing home?”
Noah eyed her with suspicion as he loosened his tie and put his briefcase down. He stood inside the door and pointed at her.
“Yes, why would I be home? I’m supposed to be on a business trip, but instead I had to come home. Could that be because of the unpaid power bill? Or the call from the school yesterday that you didn’t pick Sophia up? Or the large transactions on our statement from Blissful Rest?”
She rubbed her temples with trembling hands. “I needed a break, Noah. It’s a staycation, lots of people are doing it.”
He nodded his head quickly. “Yes, I know, you have problems with anxiety, but Blissful Rest? You know what that does to you. Right? You could stop breathing. You could go into a coma. You could die. That’s not just a break. Look at you, you’re green and you’ve got the jitters.”
“Please, Noah. Sophia’s at camp. I got everything cleaned up and did all the chores. I’ve been feeling a little icky. It’s like I’m stuck in a quagmire in my head. I’m so tired, Noah. So tired. I need a mental vacation. It’s so nice to be relaxed.”
He sat on the edge of the armchair and leaned toward her. “No, you’re way past relaxing. I think this is getting out of hand. You need help. You need to go to rehab.”
She hunched her shoulders and shook her head, “No, I can stop if I want. I’ll do better. I don’t need rehab, Noah. I’m just so tired.”
“You can’t do this anymore. How did you even afford it? We don’t have a lavish budget here, did you think I wouldn’t notice that money missing? If I see one more transaction, you’re going to rehab. You can’t neglect Sophia and the house and hope I don’t come home and catch you high. I’ll go change out of my work clothes. Then we’ll talk about what to do next.”
He didn’t wait for her reply, but headed off to the bedroom. She sat, tense, until the door shut. Emma snatched the package out of the toy box and scrambled to the kitchen for the scissors. She ripped open the package and tore the pillpack. She swallowed the pill dry. Emma stuffed the package to the bottom of the trash and returned the scissors.
She made her way back to the couch and lowered herself down.
Noah came into the living room in his sweats. He heard her pleased humming before he saw her lips curved in a blissful smile. He sighed. Noah pulled a brochure from his briefcase and reached for his phone.