“We’re going to be late.”
Her mouth formed the thin line of displeasure mothers give unruly children, hard white lips over harsh words. I could see her all pinch-faced in the rearview mirror. Her eyes screamed but her voice was quiet.
“We’re late, every time. Every time.”
She flashed her husband a look, glared at his hands on the wheel. Glared at the ring on his finger. He didn’t answer and he wouldn’t look at her. His face I couldn’t quite see fully.
“They’ll think it’s me,” she hissed. She folded her arms over her chest, irate. The image of petulance. “I can tell they think it’s me. I can see it. It’s always the woman, lollygagging. The hair and makeup. You’ll get off without a hitch.”
“It’ll be ten minutes,” he said lowly. I saw the strip of his eyes in the mirror dart off the road and up to me. They had an apology in them. “It won’t be that big a deal.”
“Not once. Not a big deal once. This is a regular thing. I think people have noticed by now.”
“We’re not the only ones who show up late.”
“We’re the only ones who show up late always.”
I could hear my friend shift awkwardly beside me, her hands in her lap. Her posture was reflexively meek, the condescension in her mother’s voice washing to the backseat. Discomfort filled the Buick like methane, reeking and unpleasant.
“You’re so irresponsible.”
The accusation fell on hunched shoulders and pushed his foot harder on the gas. His eyes were riveted on the road, on the swath of asphalt beneath his headlights.
“I should just tell them. ‘Oh, it’s not me. It’s David. He had to see the end of the game.’ They’ll believe that.” She laughed in the way that slapped, that mocked. “God. You could learn to just record it. I record all my shows.”
I saw his forehead crease. I could see the furrows, the lines of brewing anger, of consternation. She was grinning, victorious, her mouth opening to deliver some final blow. Some knife right through the ribs to his pride.
I cleared my throat.
“Looks nice out. Lots of stars tonight.”
She deflated and he sighed - defeated and relieved. The truce was unspoken and mutually understood. A guest was here and appearances had to be kept up.
“So,” she said brightly, turning around in her seat to look at us. “You guys hungry for anything?”
It would have to wait until they got home.