Daysong Graphics
Smell of Burnt Vegetables

Tara squinted into the plume of brown smoke as she pulled a tray of vegetables out of the oven. The tips of each stalk were burned charcoal black. Browned cauliflower looked dipped in caramel. Eight o’clock on the nose and dinner was ready, as usual.

She sat alone at the dining room table cluttered by her laptop and Blackberry, binders and stacks of colored note cards. “Back to work.” Searching for a recent interview, she heard the click of a lock followed by the door opening. She looked up. “Jeremy, is that you?”

He appeared in the room, pulling off his tie, eyes bright. “Surprise! I’m home early! Let’s do something. Let’s go out.”

“Now?” She was happy to see him, of course, but she had been looking forward to her nightly routine.

Jeremy, his shirt half-unbuttoned, wrapped his arms around her. “Hmm.” He brushed his lips over her neck, sending yummy shivers . . . which she brushed off at once. “Stop. That’s enough.”

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Love Learned

The cool breeze flowed around her, soothing her frazzled nerves. Sheila fingered the pile of papers on her desk then flopped against the chair back. What a hectic first week of school!

Glancing at the clock, she scooped up the papers, plopped them into the drawer, and clicked it shut. They could wait until tomorrow. As she gathered her purse and satchel, she stopped. Why rush home? What was there? Empty rooms in an empty house void of love.

“Hey, Mrs. P!”

“Hello, Hank. How are you this afternoon?” His cheerful, easygoing manner dispelled the gloom in her heart.

“Doin’ good, Mrs. P.” Hank tipped the small trash can into the large cart, tapping it with minimal clattering. Sheila smiled as Hank’s worn Keds tapped in rhythm to the tune he hummed. She recognized Lloyd Price’s hit “Personality.” Hank’s slicked-back hair—all the rage at the moment—refused to stay in place as he dashed around the room.

“I finally found a car. Well, it’s almost a car. I’m tradin’ work at Mr. Simmons’s garage for parts, then I’ll fix ’er up myself. She’s a beaut! A ’54 Corvette. I’ll bring her by when she’s done.” Enthusiasm spilled through his words.

“Isn’t that the year Corvettes had some real troubles?” She worried the inside of her lip with the question. What if he’d been talked into buying a lemon?

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