It was chipped plate day. Benevolence sorted through the painted stoneware set on the shelf and yanked out one that was had a nice size chip on the edge. Namaste-nighttime- greeter would like it or she would throw the whole thing in the trash – plate, leftover chili, noodles, cheese, sour cream.
Last night, Kadin had knocked on her door on his way to his bedroom, and in a goofy manner, almost as if nothing happened between them earlier, said “namaste.” He wasn’t much of a “namaste” guy, had argued for the election of the bellicose, unhinged political candidate though he wasn’t old enough to vote. No, it was a joke. He was mocking her of course.
Earlier he had grumbled about having to take out the trash and the dog. When she started to think about how it made her feel, she sent him her special version of the shake down text. They were on different levels of her townhouse – she, on the third level in her bedroom, watching on her computer the series about debunked methods of gathering forensic evidence, and he, on the second floor, tucked into his xbox game of formula one. The meds she was taking for cancer prevention hobbled her and she wasn’t coming down to talk to him. So she sent the text. He would just have to deal. He had enough of a conscience to come up and work it out with her.
He was too old to punish. She didn’t want him to leave her permanently or ignore her or withhold like what happened with her own parents.
No, she had the art of reasoning on her side, her verbal abilities, and if the going was especially rough, tactics of guilt and manipulation. But the chipped plate seemed a good enough little satisfaction on her end. He would never know, of course. But she would: That she had a choice of what to serve his meal on, a whole, perfectly good plate, or one with a chip. Here ya go, little namaste king, she thought, handing him the leftovers he had quietly protested her making for him. Her funds were low for the month. They would have to be careful. He didn’t care. He decided to pout anyway? Whom had she raised? He was twenty years old. He would learn soon enough. Namaste. She smiled.
While she was in the kitchen, she was drenched, sweating. It was July. Florida. The air conditioning bills can sky rocket and often things break so the AC companies rake it in. Winter times, she shuts everything down and watches the power bill dip. It really was the little things. She was getting old which shown in these small pleasures.
She was drenched and so makes a joke about carrying around the box fan to help her through the weather and menopause. Namaste boy gets a little crazy, says wow, isn’t she getting like a bit explicit.
I’m not talking about my sex life she said. He could handle it. He was twenty. Well, maybe that was a little much so she added, My hormones brought you into the world and they also almost killed me with cancer. Besides, she wanted to say, changing your diaper was quite the raw and unfiltered experience in reality, if you want to talk explicit.
He would learn soon enough, wouldn’t he: the unexpected vicissitudes of life, the need to eat leftovers, learning maybe temporarily to be poor, learning he won’t be served just what he wants and when. She had not completely spoiled him. But guilt – mainly, the divorce – had slowed down some of the teaching.
When he went to work later, his summer delivery job, in thunderstorms in a city full of car crashes from severe weather, power outages, blown out traffic lights, she turned her phone on to charge. In case he needed her.
Namaste, she thought.
In the fall he would be gone to school to live off campus with his friends. She was giving him a great deal of her furniture. He was already interviewing for next summer’s internship and would probably not be back.
Her heart was so wounded. But of course this was so right.
What had she left undone? Everything, it seemed.
But maybe he would think it natural to take the chipped plate for himself, leave the whole plates for others. He would never see it as a punishment perhaps. She knew he had confidence to not see it as a lesser position.
Only the clock kept her company, and her little dog’s snoring. It was the fifth day of July and some were still shooting fireworks down the street. How quiet it would be come August.