it's not a problem, it's french.

she comes home and makes dinner. i don't know, maybe they've got a maid and she doesn't have to do that. okay, let's say there's a maid. the maid makes something, typical american food. maybe it's just a matter of putting frozen lasagna in the oven. maybe she's from ecuador or guatemala, and she doesn't really know how to cook anything except for native dishes. they would eat it, until one of the girls got food poisoning. then, it was goodbye spicy stuff and hello safe, pre-made dinners.

she says hello to the girls and the girls are happy to see her. hugs and kisses all around. and then it's tv for them for a little while. cartoons - nickelodeon, disney, or something, anything colorful and cheerful and bursting with life. this gives her a chance to check her messages, get the mail. then she'll put on cnn. "is dinner ready yet?" "not yet, ma'am." the husband has called, says he will be running a little bit late. but that's okay. he's a good man. they'll forgive him, they'll forgive him.

more cnn and she is ready to fall asleep, though it's close to dinner time. she has plopped herself down on the leather loveseat, the one she originally hated but quickly learned to love. the girls, in the other room, are allowed to watch as much tv as they want. they're not old enough for homework yet, and anyway, there will be no tv on the weekend. that's the rule, as backwards as it sounds. sometimes, they try to do the opposite, as they keep seeing how almost all other parents are failing in just about every way imaginable.

she downs a half a bottle of red wine. it's not a drinking problem, it's the french way. the heater keeps her warm. it's set at a nice sixty-eight degrees. the wine warms her up even more, and she remembers something about how alcohol doesn't really make her warm but just gives her the illusion of warmth. that and wolf blitzer blabbing on about crisis in the middle east just makes her want to give in to sleep. can't do it, though. because then she won't be able to sleep tonight. the whole cycle of sleep and work and after-work will be thrown off completely. such a dilemma.

dinner is ready, and at that precise moment, her husband arrives. it's like a fairytale moment, and she's no longer sleepy. they eat dinner, and talk about the day. there's nothing unpleasant about it, except maybe a burp from one of the girls followed by a small reprimrand. "say, 'excuse me.'" "excuse me." it's just manners and talking. none of the heavy stuff, the bad stuff, comes - at least not for a while. she finishes another glass of wine.

that night, she closes her eyes and prays. she prays that they can all stay like this for as long as they can.

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