They were at the dinner table, gobbling up fried up pasta and cheddar when the son asks, “Mom, what do you do all day?”
Johnny was a child who asked blunt questions. Julia, the mother, knowing her son well, thought for a moment. She looked at her husband, Robert, who avoided her gaze by motioning to their daughter, Cindy, to sit up straight while at the table.
“You must get bored while we’re at school,” Johnny added.
Julia grabbed at her glass of water and gulped it down.
“While you’re at school there are chores I do around the house. The laundry has to be done. I clean the house. I wash the dishes. Some days I have to errands to do, like doing the groceries and getting the banking done. I make sure things at home are running smoothly.”
Across the table, Cindy swung her feet under her chair while making a little pasta mountain on her plate. She lined it with sloppy cheddar and giggled. Robert twirled a noodle in his fork, placed it on the bottom of Cindy’s mountain and said, “A snake! What sound does a snake make?”
“Sssssss,” replied Cindy.
“What did you do before you had us, Mom?” Johnny asked.
“I worked in advertising.”
“Why aren’t you doing that now? I know moms who have jobs.”
“I hated it. When I had you, I decided there was just too much to do at home with you two. I didn’t want to stay at a job I disliked.”
“What did you want to do before us though?”
“I wanted to be a painter. I went to art school. I believe I was pretty good at it too.”
“Why don’t you paint now?”
“I’m not sure. I liked it a lot, but I left it,” she paused, “Now there doesn’t seem to be enough time for it.”
“I’d like to see your paintings, Mommy,” Johnny said with his mouth full of pasta. “These leftovers are the deeee-licious! Yum!”
Cindy and Robert collectively nodded at Julia with tomato sauce covered grins.
Afterwards, Julia collected her family’s plates. As she went to wipe off the table, she stared into the light coming in from the living room and made a square viewfinder with her fingers. She saw yellows, reds, blues, and all the life in between the colors streaming down the hallway and into her expectant smiling eyes.
* 9:24pm, an afterthought: I keep dreaming of the infrarealista from another dimension; the one in the mirror that I can not touch.