Bull Shift

“What, uh, what did you do here?” He tries to sound calm, nonchalant even.

“Do you like it?” I’ve been seeing them everywhere and though of you.” She’s ninety percent sure he’ll love it, but there’s a nagging anxiety inside her at all times, unless of course she’s working on one of her projects.

“Permanent?” he asks, trying not to sound hopeful, merely curious.

“Oh, well, yeah, I mean…we could add things to it around the holidays to change it up a bit but…”her voice trails off as she searches his face for a clue.

He grunts and flops onto the sofa with the remote, trying to ignore the now desecrated bull skull hanging on the wall. Pressing the buttons more firmly than usual, he searches for something he can ignore while he thinks of how to proceed.

Three months ago when she’d first moved in he’d been sure she was “the one.” She was completely his type: tall, thin without being boney, fantastic red hair that tumbled all about, and a laugh that made entire rooms go quiet for a moment in appreciation. He gave her a key to his place on their third date and had planned to propose after three months. Odd numbers were his good luck, or at least they always had been. But now, here they were three months in and he’d never been so unsure of anything in his life.

It wasn’t like she’d changed the last three months. He hadn’t learned of any major skeleton in her closet. She didn’t stop shaving or doing her makeup or gain a ton of weight. If anything, he’d finally realized why some men claimed to love their spouses best first thing in the morning: hair tousled, eyes gritty with sleep, breath molten. He found he loved her most first thing in the morning, too, especially when she was still sleeping or had just woken up and had spoken yet.

No. It was something else. Something unexpected and impossible to change. He tried. Of course he tried! This was the love of his life, potentially. He’d offered to buy her things on Etsy or at those damn craft fairs she was always dragging him to. He intimated that she couldn’t possibly have time in her crowded schedule and surely she could allow him to just buy it for her. But she always declined. She always insisted she needed the outlet, she loved the results, it was better and more intimate if she made the things herself.

And so, slowly, weekend by weekend, project by project, she’d begun to make things for “them.” She wasn’t the worst ever at it. He was sure a child would produce something worse than she did. Perhaps. And he tried to love her creations because he loved her and she loved her crafts. But it was no use. He couldn’t look at the “farmhouse sign” she’d painted without being embarrassed. He couldn’t cuddle on the couch under the blanket she’d quilted without slitting his eyes. And he absolutely could not, would not, sit under his horn-wrapped-bull-skull, the first bull he ever roped and the only skill he’d ever mastered that his father appreciated, now emasculated by air plants and raffia and whatever the hell else she’d done to it and pretend that all was well.

He’d asked her once at two months in how come she didn’t have all kinds of homemade stuff with her when she moved in.

“Oh, I only make things for the people I love. My love inspires me,” she’d said.

He’d remained silent at that and told himself he’d learn to live with it. Afterall, everyone has baggage, right? Some other woman would be far less perfect and come with way more to ignore. So what if this one needed to spend two days a week creating something truly awful in order to express her love.

And so a cross-stitch throw pillow that always made the bed look like it was tilting to the left, a log reindeer that thankfully got packed away for a future holiday, and an owl topiary in serious need of a veterinarian or a gardener or something, joined the sign, blanket, and now the skull.

He stabbed the television off, set the remote carefully on the coffee table, and met her now moist gaze.

“I’m sorry!” she blurts. “I thought you’d love it. I really overstepped. I should have asked…”

He holds up his hands to shush her.

“I didn’t know I could love anyone as much as I love you now. After only three months you’ve managed to create a place in my life and in my heart I didn’t ever think were there. You’ve managed to show me week after week just how much you love me and I’m grateful.” He takes a deep breath before continuing, “this here with my skull, well, I guess you can’t know just how much this bull means to me cause I’ve never bothered to tell you. And I guess if I want things that are mine and only mine that won’t get me too far, fact is, it hasn’t gotten me very far at all. What I’m trying to say is…” and here he paused.

Once he said what he was thinking of saying he wouldn’t be able to take it back and he needed to be sure. Looking at her lovely confused face he continued, “will you keep making us things you love forever?”

He pulled out the ring he’s been carrying for three months from his jean pocket, got down on one knee, and stared into her weeping eyes.

~~~That’s one hour~~~

Silence I

This is the first part of a series. Refer to the Blog Index if you wish to read them in order.

Sometimes she’d look back on her life and miss the days when she could lay in bed reading, breaking the sound of silence and the occasional turned page by getting up to pee or grab a cup of tea or a bottle of beer. Sometimes she’d look back on her life and see days, months, years: wasted.

What if she’d started this whole “mommy” thing earlier? Would she be a better parent with all the vitality of youth or was she a better parent now with the patience of age? Would she have married “someone” to co-parent with or would she have been a single mom? Would she have had two boys or just one child? A girl maybe?

There wasn’t any point to these daydreams, these questions. They didn’t change anything. She didn’t regret her wasted youth and she certainly didn’t regret her current status of wife and mother of two. If anything, these things were still a happy surprise. But still the questions occasionally came.

“Jesus,” she thought to herself, “I can’t even think like an interesting person.”

She put the last dish on the drain board and rinsed her hands. Turning the water off, wiping her hands and throwing the towel under the sink among the pile of soiled rags kept in the bucket until laundry day. At least the kitchen would be tidy for a red hot minute before her husband came in looking for a snack. Although she hoped to have the kids in the car before then.

“I’m leaving in five minutes!” she hollered into the house, “anyone wanting a ride into town better be getting shoes on and seat belts buckled!”

She couldn’t help but smile as she heard the crashing and sliding of her boys as they juggled to get out of their rooms and down the stairs. She’d never actually left without them before but they knew from other events that it was better to assume she’d follow through than risk that she was bluffing.

She heard them calling “bye, Dad!” as they raced down the hall and their father call back “bye, boys! Be good!” as she slipped into the hall behind them and down to his office door. He sat in front of his computer, hands steepled over the keyboard, reading the monitor from was she was sure was an unsafe closeness.

“Hey,” she said softly, hoping not to startle him.

“Hey,” he said, his body slowly swiveling his chair in her direction as his eyes remained glued to the monitor until the last possible second.

“Love you, bye,” she said all in a breath, giving him a kiss on the lips. She started to pull back then changed her mind and said “more,” before kissing him again.

She couldn’t believe her good luck. Still in love with a man after ten years and two kids. And not only that, they still saw each other, appreciated one another, and consequently still had sex more than twice a week, unlike the other married couples they knew.

“Have a good day,” he said, meeting her eyes before smiling and turning back to the computer.

She hop-skipped down the hallway stopping briefly in the kitchen to grab her keys off the hook under the calendar and her water bottle off the counter. Whistling something that might have been Bach was probably Beethoven she put her shoes on in the garage, jumped into the car and called out “belts on?” as she started the car.

Hearing grunts that she translated aloud to “ye, mother, of course,” she backed out of the garage and also snuck a peek at each boy to be sure they did, in fact, have their belts on and that they looked presentable and had shoes on their feet.

Satisfied with her boys, her husband, and her life, she put the car in drive and began moving down the road.

“This is forty-five,” she thought, smiling.

And then everything was loud. So loud. How could things be so loud? Metal on metal, glass shattering, screaming. Was that her screaming? Or the boys? Would she even be able to hear them over the metal if they were screaming? The thought, “they’d better not have a scratch on them,” flit through her mind and then silence.

~~~That’s one hour~~~

This became a series. Refer to the Blog Index if you wish to read the rest in order.

Start Here

Sunday Dutro at 40 years old

Who I Am

Sunday Dutro
she / her / hers

I’m a forty-something-year-old stay-at-home-mom (SAHM) that’s always had a passion for reading and writing. I currently live in Montana with my beautiful family: husband, two kids, two dogs, five barn cats, and a handful of laying hens.

Why A Blog?

  • I need a space to write that’s not just my private journal
  • I want to connect with other people and hear their thoughts about my writing
  • A footprint – this blog will show my daily writing: the good, the bad, the ugly. The pre-polished turds, if you will, or accountability for daily writing without edits
  • If my kids ever feel they don’t know who I am/was, this’ll be somewhere they can turn to

So now you know a little about me and a little about what I’m attempting to do here. All of my posts will be my half or one hour daily writings (even if they’re terrible, #writehtirtyminutes or #writeonehour). My hope is that one or two of these writings may later become something publishable (after some serious time and labor). I took a massive break due to the COVID Pandemic and all that it brought into my life, but now I’m back! I’d love to hear your thoughts about what I write (preferably encouraging things…I’m not trying to tell you what to do, just hoping). Enjoy!

Oh, and if you don’t know where to go from here and you aren’t used to the traditional style of a blog being in reverse chronological order, you may prefer to pick the posts you read from my Blog Index which is updated with each new blog posted and it’s category or check out the other stuff I do by going to the Publications Page.