Sunday, May 6, 2007

624 days, 10 hours, 58 minutes, 40.4 seconds

She stops at the Atlantic City rest area to grab a quick lunch. The only service area on the Parkway between here and New York that doesn't have a Starbucks. In the gift shop there's a white tee-shirt with New Jersey written on the front in blue, already faded.

624 days, 11 hours, 6 minutes, 42 seconds

Their refrigerator's dying, a loud crash every time it shuts off, as if the compressor's falling out. Big deal, you say. So what, you say. But you don't understand. Their old refrigerator died Valentine's Day, 1990. The day he'd planned to propose to her.

624 days, 11 hours, 12 minutes, 15 seconds

Yesterday, walking the craft fair, one eye poised for possible Christmas gifts, they tried to count the number of wedding gifts they'd given to couples who later divorced. Then the number of weddings they attended. Silently, later, at home, she counted the number of funerals.

624 days, 20 hours, 20 minutes, 9.8 seconds

Maybe by tomorrow he'll remember her name.

624 days, 20 hours, 31 minutes, 49 seconds

There's one in every family. Easy enough to say when it's a large family. But she's an only child. Just her and her father left. One in every family? Her father at this point is shaking her head, wondering what he did wrong. She's shaking her head no, no, no, she doesn't want to visit. Doesn't want to spend a day, a night, an hour in that house alone. Or she might as well be alone. Or wishes she was alone. But maybe she can get a hotel room saying she needs high speed Internet. And maybe by tomorrow he'll remember his lawyer's name. But it's not likely.

624 days, 20 hours, 51 minutes, 50.5 seconds

The queen is coming, the queen is coming, the queen is coming! Bring out the white ties. Whitewash the White House. It's only the fourth time Elizabeth's been to visit. He must remember to switch his knife and fork between hands, regardless what the queen does. He must remember not to talk with food in his mouth, and not to drink water straight from the bottle. Black Colin won't be at his side to pour for him. He must not offer a shoulder rub to anyone. ANYONE. He must not even shake Her Majesty's hand unless she offers hers first. And, he reminds himself again and again, don't bring up Prince Charles, don't tell her he, too, has wet dreams about Camilla. The White House staff shakes its collective head. There's one in every family.