Anticipation is a feeling that I have when waiting for the red icon on the street sign to turn green. Across the street, a left turn. Across again. Walk three blocks through ranch style houses, their yards a riot of fall color. Occasionally, they look like our yard, their grass burned out and shriveled from drought. I think of xeriscaping the whole thing or maybe paving it with concrete. When I open the door, I will find you in your scanty robe. I will hold you close. You will fuss over me, feed me scones and tea. Then to bed.
Anticipation is a feeling I have when the horses are racing, really when anything is close to the finish. Well, not the dishes. Not sweeping or mowing the lawn. Something new. Something unique, even if I’ve done it before. Something where the outcome is unknown. Like the darkening of an eclipse. Or the sudden smile on a baby’s lips after a tantrum. Like flipping an omelet. Even with practice, you never know how it will turn out. Or the end of an argument. The stakes are high there. Sometimes too high to start one. Sometimes too high not to try.
Anticipation is a feeling I have when I try to talk myself out of the blues. I take a walk. Maybe there will be dogs at the park and I can watch them getting the frisbee, bringing it back, tugging it the way my mutt did until I would walk away and the dog would drop into a crouch that said, “Let’s play.” I remember that crouch. It went from downward dog to child’s pose to Zen dog tail wagging and then we would leave the house, jogging along, him eager to reach a place where he could run free.
Anticipation is a feeling you have when you walk into your classroom at the beginning of the year, the whiteboards pristine, the chairs and tables lined up just so. You start the first discussion, not knowing your students, nor how they will react to the topic or to each other. Inevitably, someone asks a question that makes you wary because it might be controversial and you don’t want to tread on toes. Or maybe you are brave. Maybe you test for fault lines. Or maybe you take the tried and true approach, saying, “What do the rest of you think?”
His accent moved around a lot, a swampy Southern drawl that sped up to nail a point. It was all factual– temperature, weather, numbers, deals notched up on a piece of wood like hunting prizes. If he had talked about bagging a couple of ducks, it wouldn’t have surprised me.
The way he talks makes me wonder if anyone is on the other end. Self talk, tons, clothed in cliched business garb.
Then, he’s staring straight through me, absorbed in his own thoughts. His gaze is steely, purposeful, crushing. Competition and victory are the only things that matter to him.
Soon as she heard Biddy’s crackly voice, Vivian felt trapped.
Biddy folded her hands on the walker, a shocked expression on her face. “Bessie’s nephew’s in the hospital. Top of his head come clean off. Her daughter called last night.” Biddy puckered up her lips like she was eating a lemon straight up, no sugar, no salt, just peeled off the tree. “Like he got scalped.”
Biddy wagged her head. “You going to supper?”
Thrown together for decades, a friendship of convenience, Vivian considered pleading illness. What a gossip. Vivian fervently wished her husband hadn’t gone first. “I guess so.”
Josephine pulled the seams on her polyester pants straight. She thought it wasn’t right to wear dark clothes that said mourning on a warm day that said Texas summer. Fanning her face and damp underarms, she glanced at her daughter while the undertaker spoke. What Josephine really wanted was to go home and shower.
Cirrhosis took Josephine’s husband to an early grave, but not soon enough, she thought. She loved her husband, “Great guy,” she always said. She meant it despite his gambling debts.
Her daughter’s face colored thirty seconds after Josephine asked, “How much does the funeral usually run?”