The roses on the night stand gently bob their over-bloomed heads, lulled by the steady vibrations of her foot tapping on the hardwood floor. Arms crossed and face stony she is an imposing figure though he can’t see her. His back is turned as he steps into the shower. The clock on the nightstand remains undisturbed, the big hand pointing to the top of the dial, the little hand on the seven. She sees this and the roses shake harder.
Stepping into the shower, he knows that they are late. He knows it is his fault, and he knows he is going to be paying for it for the rest of the evening. Still, he smiles at the thought of her wandering the bedroom aimlessly checking the seams of her dress and the curl in her hair while she waits for him. He smiles remembering her exasperated look and her pleading for him to “get the lead out.” He luxuriates for a minute under the warm steady pressure of the water. It feels somehow like a victory. He doesn’t stay long though, because even now it also makes him feel like kind of an asshole.
He appears behind her in the mirror, hair wet but groomed. As he grabs his suit jacket he catches her eye in the glass and comes to stand beside her. The make a striking couple, a modernist revision of American Gothic, no smiles, stern eyes. He bites the thought back before it pops out of his mouth. Now is not the time for jokes. It's not time to be friends again yet.
As they head to the car there is a pause before he grabs the keys, but he will drive. Though it’s her car, her house and her friends they are going to dine with, he'll drive. It's what they both want. She grabs the dessert tray she's made to appease the guests they will once again have kept waiting. He takes a look at the assortment she has arranged on a silver tray. Even through the overly cautious extra layers of cling wrap he can see it’s a pretty display.
He's somewhat ashamed of his earlier behaviour, more so when they pull onto the highway to see the traffic is backed up forever and that they are moving at a snail’s pace. Out of the corner of his eye he sees her yank out her cell phone, sees her constructing her apologies, punching them out on the keyboard pad. His fingers mimic the action tapping steadily on the steering wheel.
He knows that she tries. She tries so hard, at everything, too damn hard. He is hungry now and his eyes rove in the rearview mirror looking for the tray in the back seat even though it would be mutiny so even suggest a taste. He sees the icing has begun to melt in the heat of the car, smothered by layers of protective plastic wrap.