I’M FINE • by D.C. Huffman

Molly smiled when she saw the package was from her best friend Katie. Tomorrow was Molly’s birthday. Because of this pandemic they wouldn’t be able to get together for dinner.

A week ago Katie had called to ask how she was feeling.

“I’m fine,” she said. It was a message only Katie would understand. Fine did not mean okay. It meant the opposite of okay. Now she had no phone.

Her husband Matt must have heard her tell Katie she was worried about the bills now that neither of them were working, because when she got off the phone, he took her phone and threw it against the wall.

Her only way of communicating was on the desktop in the den, where Matt watched the television all day long.

For twenty-eight days she’d been homebound with her husband because of the pandemic. At first, Molly wondered if she wasn’t pregnant if he’d be so controlling. But looking back over their first year of marriage she had ignored the warning signs. Matt didn’t want her to go anywhere without him. Couldn’t even go to the grocery store! Did he think she was going to have an affair in the deli meats? As soon as he found out she was pregnant he talked her into quitting her job.

What’s best for the baby, she’d heard a hundred times. As if she wouldn’t do what was best.

With each passing week of the pandemic he’d added things to the Do Not Do list:

Week 1 – No crowds

Week 2 – No library or mall

Week 3 – No going inside for groceries

Week 4 – No going to park alone

The last one was the eye-opening one. She’d always walked to the park to get exercise. When she’d asked him why — he said he was only trying to protect her and the baby. Molly didn’t feel protected, she felt trapped.

***

Matt hovered over her as she pulled out two tissue wrapped bundles. The first one was a hexagon-shaped sun catcher in beautiful gold colors. Matt wiped it off with a disinfecting wipe then set it on the table. The other one was a rectangle composed of every shade of green — lime, forest, mint, sage, olive, and emerald. Katie and Molly dreamed of going to college together. At least Katie had managed to hold onto her dream.

“Suncatchers,” Molly whispered. A letter lay in the box. Matt grabbed it first, glanced at it then passed it to her.

Remember when we were girls, we used to put posters up in our window? Wish I still lived across the street.

Let’s video chat tomorrow at 8 pm. Let me know which suncatcher you’re going to hang up first.

When they were in elementary school, they used signs in the window to communicate. Neither one had cell phones. If Katie’s dad was home and had been drinking Katie would hang the ‘Go Raiders!’ gold sign in her window. Then Molly would invite Katie to her house, often to spend the night. If it was okay for Molly to go over to Katie’s house, Katie would hang the green ‘Go Raiders’ sign.

***

At eight o’clock Matt was settled in his recliner with his first after dinner beer ready for his evening shows.

Right on time Katie appeared on video. She wasted no time, “Which one are you going to hang up first?”

Molly held up the gold suncatcher. Katie grabbed a piece of paper and held it up:

I’ll be there in two hours.

Bringing my brother.

Molly started to cry as she walked to her room to pack a bag.


D.C. Huffman writes in Kentucky, when not reading or writing she volunteers with a bird-of-prey rescue organization and travels whenever possible.


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