Thirty-One Too Many

When Matt unlocks the door to his suburban home with a fistful of leftover candy from the work party in his mouth, his sigh of relief unexpectedly morphs into a worrisome choke. It’s the kind of choke that would scare Rosaline to death, but she’s out trick or treating with Fletcher in the neighborhood. He expects to hear her scream from the pandemonium he’s causing as he unrelentingly hacks out a piece of Kit Kat from the wrong pipe, but instead he hears the disappointing silence. It’s the kind of silence that he attributes to apathy. And speaking of apathy, just moments ago he was so worried about little Natalie next-door pranking him on his way down the driveway that he didn’t remember to pick up the flowers for their anniversary.
Shut the front door! He’ll have to order them from the local flower shop before they get home. When are they getting home anyway? Before he can sit down on a patinated leather sofa, he picks up one of Rosaline’s yellow sticky notes that reads “The candy is in a bowl on the front porch. Check the Nest cam to see if you need to refill it.” It’s the kind of note that Rosaline leaves with the hopes of Matt reading it, but she really knows Matt’s too lazy to actually get up from the couch after sitting down anyway. Lately she’s just been leaving them so she can stay accountable. That way, when they start arguing later in the night she can say she tried. And lately she’s been tired of trying.
According to the Nest camera, the candy bowl is almost empty. This early in the evening, the only explanation is an upsetting one. The ungrateful kids living in this neighborhood are taking more than their share of candy. What a shame! Upset at the youthful candy stealers but not upset enough to do anything about it, Matt decides to stay on the couch. He would rather order flowers for the sake of his marriage than feed another kid into the worsening obesity epidemic. Rosaline was right this time, a little too right.
As he reaches for another Kit Kat, he coughs on the one still in his mouth. He’s met with silence. Rosaline’s not home still. Matt doesn’t know that she’s out looking for Fletcher using the flashlight that he forgot to replace the batteries for. Rosaline keeps a pair of batteries in her purse for occasions like these. Rosaline always has a backup plan, but no amount of planning can tell her that Fletcher is just a few hundred feet in the soccer field. Daddy scared him about obesity, and so now he’s throwing all his candy between the goal posts. And Matt, he doesn’t know about the more serious sticky note Rosaline left on the bedside table. It would be a lie to say he doesn’t know that they are drifting apart. Rosaline can say with confidence that he doesn’t know that the last number she dialed on her phone was for a divorce lawyer. He’s sitting on the couch in denial about the thirty-one flowers he’s about to order. Rosaline’s tired, and she knows he’s ordering thirty-one flowers too many.
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