She opens the kitchen door slowly, and catches the storm door with her hip, so it won't slam behind her. It's never shut right, it needs a new springy thing.
Everything in this stupid house is broken.
Not really, but it's constant upkeep.
She tries not to rustle the grocery bags, and sets them gently on the mat by the shoe rack. She sneaks the cold stuff into the fridge, the rest can wait.
She knows he's probably napping.
He's supposed to be working on his list of chores today, he's got so many, it seems he'll never get caught up.
He got up early, with good intentions. Feeling all spry.
Beautiful weather. The Dog Days.
Coffee on the back porch is almost spiritual. One more cup, while he catches up on his social feed, not much to hold his interest, today. Watching the bees.
A satisfying walk, around the little raised garden, it's full-on harvest season.
No hornworms, knock on wood.
He checks every morning.
More coffee, and no more excuses.
Get to the point. Pick a project.
She's reminded him, more than once, that colder weather is coming.
The woodpile needs attention. Can we stretch one cord out, this year, or will we need two?
What about your Mom's house?
Are you still going to fix these vehicles?
Can't we just haul them somewhere?
We have triple A.
She's got him, there. She's always right.
He likes to fix his own stuff, even if it takes almost forever. Can't help it.
The old plow truck sits, right where he shut it off, after the last Spring snow.
The hood is open, just a crack, because it's definitely going to need a jump.
That was the extent of his preparation.
It still needs a battery, and a wiper motor.
It probably still leaks gas, when it's running, that can't be good.
There's a clunky noise, up front, when you turn too sharp. That was getting pretty bad, now that he thinks about it.
His stomach gurgles, as he remembers.
It's all on the list.
He tackled the garage, this morning, cleaning up the remnants of his last few projects. Always in a rush. Piles grow.
The tools have to be in order, or nothing will get done. A good place to start.
His mind dances with Summer dreams, soon to be regrets, boat rides, beach days, camping trips. The good stuff.
His childish, live for the moment attitude is b-slapped, by reality. Again.
It stings, every year.
She knows he's trying.
She can see the progress, some piles have shrunk, and there's a little path, through the madness.
She shakes her head, but smiles.
She can't help it.
She tiptoes in, and finds him, right there on the couch. It's no surprise.
It looks like he made a fresh coffee, just before he passed out, there's already a little ring around the cup.
So much to do, she hates to hound him, but gentle prodding doesn't always take.
He's a little stubborn, sometimes.
She'll keep reminding him, and he'll break.
For now, she covers his legs with a blanket, turns the TV down, and leaves him there, in his summertime dream.
She will make sure they're ready, if she has to do it all, herself.
She knows it will never come to that.