EGG HUNT • by Bethany Bruno

My hands are hovering above my open eyes. I let out a deep sigh in the hopes that my wife will hurry up so I can get back to the game. I cast a quick glance below at my son, Bobby. I can’t help but smirk at his dogged determination to keep his tiny hands pressed firmly against his closed eyelids. A wicker basket filled with artificial green Easter grass hangs from the bend of his right elbow.

“No peeking!” My wife’s giggles echo throughout our house. Her sneakers squeak against the tiled floor when she reaches the kitchen threshold. “Okay, all the eggs are hidden,” she announces. I drop my hands and nudge Bobby, who cautiously lowers his. She gestures with her flat hand to stop as I take a step forward. “The solid-colored eggs are for Bobby,” she says, grinning at him. She turns toward me as her face drops into a grimace. “And the polka dotted eggs are for Daddy.” She tenses, then seemingly shakes off whatever thought crossed her mind.

I raise my eyebrows, but she turns away from my questioning stare. “Ready?” Bobby nods. “Set?” She holds out her arm like a toll booth gate. He waits for her signal, clutching the basket. She drops her arm and waves toward the archway. “Go!”

Bobby scans the living room with every step. He inspects the couch, removing each cushion and flinging it to the side. While searching the entertainment center, he stoops to the ground and peers beneath. An orange egg catches his eye. He snatches it, and with a plop, the plastic egg cracks open. Fruity chewing gum, one of his favorite candies, is tucked inside.

Her hand reaches out and presses flat against my chest before I can take the first step in my hunt. Her happy façade falls as she peers up at my eyes. “Thank you for doing this,” she says, clearing her throat. “Regardless of how we feel toward each other, it’s important to do these things for him.”

I look away and nod, sensing the tears welling up in her eyes. “Sarah, I know things—”

“Dad!” he yells, “You have one in your office!” She lowers her hand and wipes her cheeks. I enter through the open doors of my office, which is currently serving as my makeshift bedroom. A yellow polka dotted egg atop the upholstered gray futon stands out among the clutter. Sarah, her arms crossed, hovers by the doors as I pick up the egg and face her. A small, hot pink box appears when the halves are separated. My eyes widen as I inspect the packaging.

“Good and Fruity?” I ask, holding the box of discontinued candies. “I haven’t seen these in years.”

She forces a tight-lipped smile. “We saw a movie on our first date. As the lights dimmed, you pulled out a box of those candies. I fell for you the instant you opened my palm and poured me a handful.” When I realize I don’t remember that incident, my excitement fades. I remember the film, but not the sweets.

Bobby rushes past us and storms into the dining room. Sarah goes after him, leaving me to rummage through my fading recollections. “You’ve got another one, Dad,” Bobby says as he finds an egg for himself underneath the oblong table. There’s a blue polka-dot egg on top of the seat cushion as I approach the wooden table. When I crack open the egg, I find a bag of coffee flavored Werther’s hard candies inside.

Sarah turns to me in anticipation of an “aha!” moment, but it never comes. “You went downstairs for coffee while we waited for my water to break in the delivery room,” she says with a sigh. “The coffee machine was broken, so you returned with what you called ‘the next best thing.’ You ate the entire bag before my first push.”

I stammer from humiliation. “Sarah, that was a stressful day. I can’t be expected to remember every detail,” I argue.

Bobby pops his head into the room and says, “Get moving, slowpokes! The last eggs are in here.” He dashes around the corner and into the master bedroom. In the space beneath our king-size bed, Bobby discovers a bright red egg. He twists it open, revealing a few Hershey Kisses. “Can I go eat my candy now?” he asks.

“Sure, honey,” she says. “Daddy’s almost done.”

When he is out of earshot, I ask, “What is all this, Sarah?” She gestures toward our bed, where a purple polka dot egg is hidden between decorative pillows. Sarah takes hold of my forearm just as I reach for it. “Before opening this one,” she says, “you have one guess as to what candy is my absolute favorite.” She wipes her eyes. “If you answer correctly, I’ll take the egg back and give you something better. Something we both want desperately.”

My arm droops. A million memories flood my brain. Sarah munching on Sweet Tarts in the passenger seat of my truck while pregnant. Heart-shaped boxes of gourmet chocolate on Valentine’s Day. The three of us sucking on tiny candy canes while waiting in line for a photo with mall Santa. Her hollowed cheeks as she bit into a Lemonhead, causing me to laugh hysterically.

She anxiously awaits my response as I remain silent. Any attempt at a guess feels wrong, like I’m insulting her further by not being absolutely certain. She closes her eyes and shakes her head in disbelief. Or disappointment. Perhaps both, as she gently places the egg in my palm. She turns around, casting me a last glance, and then walks away. I pull it apart, like a cracked egg, and drop its contents onto the patterned quilt. I recognize this item, though it doesn’t look exactly like I remember.

Time and carelessness have dulled the diamond ring that once sparkled brightly on her finger.

Bethany Bruno is an Irish/Italian American writer. She was born and raised in South Florida. She obtained a BA in English from Flagler College and later earned an MA from the University of North Florida. Her writing has been previously featured in several journals, including The Sun, The MacGuffin, The First Line, Ruminate, and Lunch Ticket Magazine. She was a contributor to the chapbook, Those Who Scream. She was previously nominated for “Best of the Net” in 2021. She currently lives in Huntsville, Alabama, with her husband and daughter.

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Every Day Fiction