My new friends at Write On Edge have a flash fiction prompt up involving jeans. I'm not sure what brought all this on, but this story is called "Everything and Nothing".
I leapt up with the practiced scramble of a parent of small children. Naked, I bent low, hauling on pants with a smooth tug, standing up straight to pull them to my waist. They came up much too far, making it clear to me I had pulled his on instead of my own. They were loose in some places, tight in others. The fit was different- odd, but not unpleasant. I was ashamed to note I had enough of a belly to hold them up without a belt.
I stopped for a moment, wearing his pants, shirtless, listening, getting my mental processes up to speed. No one was vomiting, or coughing, or murmuring about bad dreams, or complaining about branches making strange shadows on their floor in the moonlight. It was silent, and I drank it in for a moment. A glorious fall Sunday, open and pregnant with possibility. The last Sunday we'd have for months.
He's leaving tomorrow. I bent and scooped up the shirt he hurriedly discarded last night. "ARMY", it said in simple, block print. Simple and utilitarian. No frills, no mess. Utility above all other virtues. The taxi would come in the dark, early tomorrow morning, taking him away from us again, while I laid awake, weeping silently to get all the tears out before the children woke up. I pulled the shirt on, braless, arranging it on my frame so it would hang correctly.
I crept forward, watching John as he slept. My toes found my flip flops almost instinctively, slipping them on. John's face, so intense and serious last night, was relaxed in sleep, reminding me of what he probably looked like as a teenager, dreaming about playing center field in Yankee Stadium. It was the only time he really seemed relaxed, when sleep finally took him and he unclenched all over. It was odd, hearing no sound in the house as I snuck around. Even the dog was quiet.
I moved down the hall towards the front door, his jeans rustling slightly between my thighs as I walked, intent on donuts and coffee. I could slip out to the store, letting John and the kids wake up to the smells and tastes of a wanton, carbohydrate drenched morning of no church, cartoons and laughter and wrestling on the rug, followed by naps and football. Perfect, I thought, smiling in the dark. An ideal sendoff.
I thought about the mess I was probably leaving in his jeans, his odors and mine mingled. I delighted in it, secretly, my inner child fascinated by the raw biology of us, our sweat and need distilled and faded to odors and stains on coarse blue denim. I would sneak these dirty jeans into his things, I decided instantly, tucking them far away down one side of his bag so he would come across them, still smelling of me, of us, and he would have this to remind him of what he had to come back to.
I smiled again, thinking of him, blushing softly in that faraway place, all the dirt and the mountains and the cold, remembering his last night with me. I hoped someone would ask him what that was, and he'd tuck them back away, saying defensively, "Nothing!," but the smell would fill his nostrils, and he would remember me, and that would mean everything.