Beyond Deserving

Beyond Deserving by Sandra Scofield Read Free Book Online Page B

Book: Beyond Deserving by Sandra Scofield Read Free Book Online
Authors: Sandra Scofield
dance. It is going to be hard to defend Algebra II-Trig, Biology, Personal Finance, and the like. You don’t need those courses to get into a dance school, only to get out of high school.
    Carter, named for Ursula’s deceased father, who was a serious scholar, is certainly turning out nothing like him; his intellect is hot and quick and contemporary. Morning comes and Carter sleeps on. He goes to bed in his underwear—today’s, if he bathed last night, yesterday’s, if not—and rises at the last possible moment, after Ursula is already out of the house. He has only to pull on his clothes and spike his hair in the front to be ready. He doesn’t really wake up until second period. He sails through math and science though. He has what the world wants. Ursula thinks that is at the heart of Juliette’s dislike for him. That, and his mouth-breathing.
    When kids ask Juliette if Carter is her brother, she says, “You have got to be kidding.” Ursula cannot remember the last time she heard her children speak to one another civilly.
    Michael speaks softly. “Ursie, I’ve got coffee for you.” She smiles in surprise. There was a time when he brought her coffee in bed every Sunday morning. It went on for years and years. She loved the luxury of slowly sipping the coffee, made from beans he would have ground fresh. Then one Sunday quite a long time ago, she came up out of a terrible dream and raged at Michael to leave her the hell alone on her days off. She wanted to sleep until she decided to wake up. He went away. Mortified, she listened to the rattle of the cup in its saucer as he took the coffee back to the kitchen. She wanted to run after him, not only to apologize, but to tell him about the dream, in which Carter—still inside her grossly distended belly, age four or five—was plucking at her flesh and gobbling it, eating her, inside out. All she managed was to pull on her robe and wander down with an embarrassed, amused, intimate acknowledgement of her bad behavior on her face. But Michael was already out of the house. Nothing was ever said. And he stopped bringing her Sunday coffee.
    â€œSo what’s this?” she says as she sits up. Her flannel gown is unbuttoned, and her splayed breasts shine, pale between faded purple flowers. Without thinking, she clutches the neck of her gown together and buttons the last two buttons. She pats the bedcovers, to urge Michael to sit with her, but he ignores her gesture. He holds the cup straight out and says, “After you drink this, you need to call Katie back.”
    She glances at the clock. It is a few minutes after six. She did not hear the phone. So she did sleep a little. “What in the world does she want at this hour?”
    â€œI wouldn’t get up yet,” he answers. “She said call her before you leave for work.” And he is gone, probably to check on his oatmeal. Or to feed the cat, which follows him down the stairs. Or both.
    Ursula savors the coffee. Michael’s little rituals. One of them is fresh beans. She seldom gets to share the benefit of his grinding. Usually she gulps down a fast cup of tea (three dunks of the bag, two spoons of sugar) standing up, while everyone else is still upstairs. Juliette eats nothing before noon, a fact that nettles Ursula, though Juliette is the strongest of them all, with her incredible long legs and her 15 percent body fat, as tested in P.E. (P.E.! she shrieked. P.E., when she dances fifteen hours a week.) Carter buys donuts at the stand by the bus stop and relies on his speedy metabolism to keep him looking good. Only Michael has a proper breakfast, prepared and eaten, like most things he does, with great absorption. He does nothing quickly. There have been times when this drives Ursula mad for a moment, but it is a quality she mostly admires. That self-care. It might even be what she married Michael for: the sense that time does indeed pass, with

Similar Books

Yours Truly

Jen Meyers

Gravity (The Taking)

Melissa West

Starks' Reality

Sarah Storme

Eyes on You

Kate White