Deborah and Cindy were liars. They could smile through their teeth and fool even the most cynical of people. It wasn’t always this way. There was a time when they might have considered each other friends—no, acquaintances. But now life had snuck in and pushed these women apart.
On the corner of the cul-de-sac they stood, waiting for their children to arrive home from school. Deborah looked at Cindy and said in the daintiest way possible, “Wonderful weather we’re having, isn’t it?”
“Why, yes, it’s beautiful out! Don’t you just love spring?”
“Absolutely! In fact, I would say it’s my favorite season.”
“I’m more of a summer girl, myself."
Both women were in their mid-forties, married to a wonderfully supportive husband, two kids each, and lived a comfortable suburban life. Each day they managed to balanced their full social calendars with the requisite luncheons, soccer games, sleepovers, birthday parties, carpools, piano practices, homework monitoring, and anything and everything else that needed to be handled—bedtime was at 10, mass on Sunday. Day in and day out they braved the mundane drudgery that provided them with a sense of normalcy and security. Surprises were not a welcome addition, unless they were immediately followed by presents, cake, and ice cream.
But lurking underneath these seemingly picture-perfect lives there was an insatiable need for a break, a departure from the normalcy and security that they craved. Under no circumstances could they show any sign of dissatisfaction or weakness. No one would understand. People would see them as ungrateful, rich snobs that have everything and only want more. That wasn’t acceptable. Appearances must be maintained at all costs, even if it was draining the life out of them.
Cindy chimed in, “How are Gianna and Grace doing? Are they still playing volleyball?”
Wouldn’t you like to know? “Well, no, their season has just ended. But they’ll be doing soccer soon. What about Brayden and Jenna?”
My kids are none of your concern, Deborah. “They are fantastic. Jenna turns six on Saturday, so we’ll going to take her out to that new Japanese steakhouse over on 82nd Street. Brayden is doing baseball camp over the summer. He’s super excited about it.”
“That’s wonderful!” Come on bus! Get here. “My kids are going to be home all summer. No camps this time around. But my sister is flying in from California for a month in June, so they’re going to be able to play with their cousins a lot.”
“I’m sure they’ll enjoy that very much.” Why is she still talking to me?
“Yeah, me too!” Deborah tried to smile and hoped that Cindy didn’t through the disguise. “By the way, I know you like to cook. I have some fresh peppers and tomatoes in my garden if you’d like to have some.” Please say no you impossible freeloader.
Deborah found solace in her garden. It stretched from the beginning of the driveway and snaked all the way across the right side of the house. Flowers and shrubberies of all shapes and kinds dotted the brick-lined garden and a cobblestone walkway cut through the middle of a sea of color. Yes, Deborah loved to spend hours in the garden. There was a certain peace that came from working with her hands in the dirt that she couldn’t find anywhere else. She tried yoga, meditation, exercise, yet nothing quite lived up to her garden paradise. Nope, having the green thumb was the only entertainment Deborah needed.
Cindy on the other hand was rarely seen outside, at least not in the front of the house. There were a few flowers on the front porch that she watered, but otherwise she wasn’t out much. One especially nice days you’d might be lucky to see her swaying back and forth on her rocking chair while reading a book. Cindy was fond of escaping the real world and entering into the worlds created behind printed pages. The outdoors did not appeal to her in the slightest. Her husband took care of those things.
She did, however, pour herself into her kitchen. Her kitchen was littered with knives of all kinds, every size bowl or frying pan you could think, and a small arsenal of special cooking machines and gadgets that would put Andrew Rea of “Binging With Babish” to shame. Cindy loved to cook: casseroles, briskets, homemade bread, homemade pasta, omelets. She also had a flair for baking: strudels, scones, even apple pan dowdy. Her fresh chocolate chip cookies were the pride of her neighborhood. Every Christmas, she made a huge batch to give to her closest neighbors.
“I would love some peppers. You know John—he has such a huge appetite for spicy foods.”
“Yes, I remember you told me that.”
“How’s Darryl? I don’t see him much anymore.” Not that I care.
“Oh, he’s been on a business trip in Boston right now.”
I hope that’s all he’s doing over there. “It must be nice to have the house to yourself and your kids a little.”
“Well, actually, tonight I get the house completely to myself. The girls are having a sleepover at a friends house. They’re just coming home to grab their things and then I’m taking them over to the Henderson’s.” I wonder what your boring kids are doing.
“I’d absolutely hate having the house to myself. I just adore having John and the kids home.” Take that, you ungrateful wrench. I actually like spending time with my family.
“Don’t get me wrong, I love it when Darryl, Gianna, and Grace are home, but a little peace and quiet go a long every once in a while.” Quit acting like you’re holier than thou! Where is the damn bus?
“I can understand that. So, tell me, do you have any plans while you’ve got the house to yourself?” Cindy tried too hard to sound pleasant. Deep down, she didn’t give a rat’s hat about Deborah or her life.
And Deborah couldn’t have cared less about Cindy’s life either.
But the bus still hadn’t relieved them yet, so on with the appearances of cordiality.
“Nothing, really. I’ll probably clean and watch a few movies. What about you? Have you cooked up anything new and exciting?” asked Deborah.
“Actually, I haven’t. This week has been so busy that we’ve gone out a lot or ordered delivery pizza. I’ll be back behind the kitchen in no time. I certainly miss cooking.”
“I’m sure you appreciate the break, though.”
The conversation was quickly beginning to dry up. Both women wanted so badly for some redemption. And as luck would have it, the long yellow rectangle that transported their four collective bundles of joy to and from school turned right down their street, ready to relieve them of their game of charades.