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“Aunt Jess, why is my mom crying?”
“Just go back to the living room, RJ. Watch some tv or something.” Jess said, pushing the boy out of sight.
“Mary, don’t get so upset. He’s not going to be in trouble. Didn’t he just call to say that they’re finally releasing him after all these weeks?”
Just then the two women heard the garage door motor hum. Mary started bawling again. RJ slunk deeper into the couch. A car door slammed and the door to the laundry room opened cautiously.
“HOW COULD YOU!” Mary screamed, running up to Rick. “How could you?”
Rick put up no defense to the slap that shocked him with its violence. Eyes closed and head unmoving, he left his cheek exposed as he waited with uncertainty for her next move.
After what seemed like an eternity without noise, he first peeked out of his left eye before opening them both. He watched her run off in tears back to the kitchen with Jess. As he entered the kitchen, he saw Jess pull back from her embrace with the crying Mary and join RJ in the living room.
Mary turned to the cabinets and began to open them as if searching for something. She balked and then straightened up. Next she pulled a stack of plates out and dropped them to the ground. And another. Then she just reached her entire left arm in and swept the bowls out. And the salad plates. Another cabinet open, another set of dishes dashed against the tile. Rick pursed his lips as he tried not to cry.
Finally, he said, “Mary. Oh Mary.” Emotion overcame him and he looked away.
Unable to speak, he bent down and began to pick up the pieces.