Keep on the Sunny Side

Keeponthe (1)

Eggs sputtered in the skillet while the sun came dripping through the windowpane and onto the marble tiles like yolk splattered on the floor. Peggy had the urge to wipe it up. “Silly,” she muttered and stepped over the goppy mess of yellow light on her way to the fridge.

Four pieces of bread, the butter, apricot jam, three tomatoes. She balanced it all between bulging belly and breasts. The baby kicked at the cold of the butter dish seeping into her womb. “Alright, alright,” she sang to him, setting them down on the pink granite countertop. She didn’t know it was a “he” for sure, but she had a feeling. She held her hand over the steaming skillet, moisture gathering in between her fingers until it was too hot to bear. Then she rested them on her belly. “That better?”

Another hand slid over hers, larger, freckled, with calloused pads at the base of its fingers. “Is she moving?” Carl asked, throat humming against the side of her head.

Peggy nodded. “She doesn’t like the cold.”

“Neither do I,” Carl said, sliding his hand to cup her breast. “Last night was fun, don’t you think?”

“It was different.” She tried to sound enthusiastic.

“Different is exactly what I was going for.” Carl kissed the back of her head and picked up the warm coffee she’d left out for him on the countertop. He didn’t like it hot. Tepid. “I’ll hit the grocery store on the way home. Want me to pick up another pack of Pinwheels?”

She had been eating too many lately. “Okay,” she said. “I think you’re fattening me up.” She smiled at him nervously. He’d told her every day since they’d first met how beautiful she was, every day except the last three.

“Just wanna make you happy.” Carl sat down at the table and slurped his coffee. His phone’s screen danced over his cobalt eyes as he scrolled. She had been his wife for eleven years, yet he still struck every nerve she had like she was an entire orchestra. Did he really still love her?

Peggy slid her hand into the pocket of her apron for the bracelet she’d been wearing the day they met. The screaming, rumbling, old wooden roller coaster train thundered behind her. The line was taking too long, and she had to pee, so she’d left it to find a bathroom. On the way, she’d met Carl.

She didn’t know he’d kept the bracelet until last night when she’d been going through the closet to make space for baby clothes. She’d knocked a box off the top shelf and everything had spilled out. It had been there, lying between photographs of Carl’s sisters, old report cards, a recipe for applesauce muffins, an armless action figure, and a pair of her panties that smelled like piss. She pocketed the bracelet, tossed the panties in the laundry, and packed up the box.

“What did you think about the movie?” Carl asked.

“Huh?”

“The movie last night. Jeez, Peggy. Where’s your head?”

“Sorry. The eggs were making me think of that song you used to sing me when we first got married.” She slid the spatula under one of them and scooped it onto a plate. “Keep on the sunny side, always on the sunny side,” she mumbled.

“You liked that song.”

“I still do,” Peggy said, “I just remembered.” She set the plate in front of him and watched him slide his butter knife between the prongs of his fork, yolk spilling slowly into a puddle. She used her spoon to cut her own.

Carl took a bite, then went back to his phone.

Peggy mashed her eggs against the roof of her mouth with her tongue, swallowed them, little embryos that might have been chicks. “Can I try that?” she asked.

“What? My coffee? You know you don’t need caffeine.”

“No, the phone.”

“Why?” Carl chewed on the side of his mouth like a cow.

“It looks interesting.”

“Not that interesting,” he said, laying the phone down.

“Oh, I almost forgot. Tomatoes.” She stood, holding her back and making sure not to bump her belly on the corner of the table. Picking up the tomatoes, she squeezed them gently to make sure they were firm.

Carl licked the edge of his butter knife and handed it to her.

She sliced his tomatoes on the counter, leaving red pulp resting on the mottled pink and grey granite. Then she cut one for herself.

“Peggy, come sit down. I’ll take care of that mess,” Carl said.

“Would you?” she asked. “I don’t know why, but I’m feeling more tired than usual.”

“Sure.” Carl wiped his mouth.

Peggy felt dizzy. She put a hand out to steady herself on the counter by a tray of unbroken eggs, sitting quietly and orderly in two rows. Eggs. Eggs. Eggs. Years and years of eggs. Her other hand found the bracelet in her pocket again. She felt around to the the side where Carl had cut it off that day. She’d tried last night to fit it around her wrist again. It was too small.

“Are you okay, baby?” Carl ripped a paper towel from the roll and spread it over the tomato juices.

Peggy grunted, but slipped and knocked the tray of eggs onto the floor. They cracked. “Oh,” Peggy said, “oh, I’m so sorry. I’m sorry, honey.”

Carl took a breath. “It’s alright, Peggy.” He touched her cheek. “You’re pregnant.” Bending over, he started to gather up the empty shells and set them back in the tray.  “My pretty Preggy Peggy,” he said to the floor.

She reached for the handle of the cast-iron skillet. Her skin sizzled, searing pain rushing from her palm to her chest. She pulled it from the stove and brought it down on his head, hot grease pouring over him the way her own urine had burned down her leg the day they’d left the park.

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