Why Charlie was late for dinner

Beatrice brushed crumbs off the table cloth as she finished her supper. She couldn’t quite figure why Charlie hadn’t made it home yet, but she’d promised her therapist that if he wasn’t home by 7:30, she’d eat alone and put his stuff in the fridge for later. She just loved him so much she couldn’t stand it. So she decided to write down what maybe happened so she could show her therapist what she was thinking. Beatrice picked up a pen and the spiral notebook sitting next to the fruit basket on the counter and started writing:

July 7th. It is 8:52 p.m. My husband isn’t home for dinner. I sent him a text earlier telling him that I would be eating my famous meatloaf and cheesy tater tots for dinner without him, and he didn’t send me a message back. He doesn’t like it when I badger. Here is what maybe happened. Charlie loves his boss. Maybe they were having a chat about that important client meeting they had today. Or maybe a chat and a drink! Mister Anderson was the kind of guy who had a fridge in his office that was disguised as a filing cabinet, and when your boss asks you to stay after for a drink, you just don’t say no. Charlie’d stayed after to have a Lemon Drop or two, which shows that he has very good manners, and they got to talking and Charlie lost track of time showing off pictures of their new toy poodle Samantha. Charlie loves our poodle. After he left Mr. Anderson’s office, he probably went to the PetSmart to get her a new chew toy.  He is such a considerate guy that way. He’ll probably remember to pick up that special food I want him to buy, too.  But he hasn’t texted to ask what the name of the food is!

Beatrice put down her pen. All of a sudden, she didn’t know if he’d remember the right kind of food. She became immediately certain that he was wandering about the store looking for a label he could recognize, and Beatrice knew he’d be furious if he bought the wrong thing. She picked up her phone and sent this text: IAMS. In the YELLOW BAG. Then, in her journal,

There, now he knows. It’s not badgering if I am giving him important information. He’ll be home in about 12 minutes, given the time it’ll take to check out and get back to the house. But what if he was driving while I texted him? Oh my god. And he’s had a drink or two. I may have just killed my Charlie. I distracted him while he was driving and he probably just crashed into the back of the person in front of him. Should I text him again to see if he’s OK? Should I make sure the insurance card is in the glove box? No. How could I do that? He’s got the car. Oh dear lord, please don’t let Charlie be in a burning car wreck because we’re out of dog food. Because I saw in those movies sometimes that as soon as one car hits another, there’s flames that come out of everywhere and God help me I don’t know if I could kiss him if his face is all burned up! His lips would be gone and he’d look like something out of that crazy movie with the knife hand guy!

Beatrice’s eyes started to well up with tears as she pictured her husband burning alive on the side of Highway 62. She imagined picking out a new dress for his funeral and all the nice flowers people would bring over for her. She would only have to cook for one, and could eat at 6 like she liked! Then, she jumped as she heard Charlie’s car run over the curb on its way into the driveway. Peeking out the window to look for a damaged bumper or flames, she saw her husband brake hard, almost slamming the car into the garage again.

She closed up the spiral notebook and hid it on top of the fridge, then took Charlie’s dinner out as he came in the back door.

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