SUNDAY MORNING, and Eleanor was awaken by something other than the swish-swish of Juan’s BowFlex.
It was the smell of dark roasted Colombian coffee, bacon, eggs, hash browns, and toast that woke her.
She sat up in bed, sniffed the air, and threw her legs over the side of her bed. Had Willow invaded her space yet again?
Wearing a pair of red plaid flannel pajamas that covered every inch of her, she didn’t bother throwing on a robe. She pulled the chair from beneath the doorknob, opened the door, and listened. Not hearing Willow’s voice, she padded barefoot down the short hallway and peeked into the kitchen. Juan was sitting at her kitchen table having a cup of the wonderfully aromatic coffee, reading the Sunday paper.
“There’s more coffee if you want a cup,” he said, holding up her favorite mug. The burgundy one with a plethora of dog bones raining from the sky much to the delight of a group of mangy looking dogs.
Still smarting from yesterday argument, she didn’t allow herself to become upset. Neither did she reprimand him for choosing the one cup in the cabinet that she didn’t want her guests using. Instead, she calmly chose the pink flower strewn mug that reminded her of those delicately flowered Victoria tea cups she like so much, but refused to buy, and poured herself a cup of coffee.
“Mmmm,” she moaned, savoring the coffee’s rich velvety black flavor.
“There’s breakfast, too.”
“I don’t usually eat a big breakfast. Just bacon and toast.”
“Not even on a Sunday?”
He urged her on because he knew it was the smell of the breakfast he’d prepared that had tempted her from her bedroom. She hadn’t even bothered combing her hair which was a wild tangled mane about her head. He resisted the urge to laugh.
“I make great scrambled eggs,” he said, putting the paper down and taking her in fully. She was plump by American standards, but curvy and ample by Mexican standards. Her skin was clear and bright. Teeth straight. And when she wasn’t being mad at the world, was a pretty good person to talk to. And he’d seen her smile a number of times yesterday when she thought he wasn’t looking. He suspected that it was her attitude that made people think of her as old, dowdy, and ugly.
“Why don’t you sit and I’ll fix you a plate,” he said.
And before she could say something negative, he said it for her.
“I know I don’t have to … but I want to.”
He got up, retrieved a plate from an overhead cabinet, and placed three strips of bacon, two slices of toast, a tablespoon of his cheese and green onion laced eggs, and hash browns on it before setting it down in front of Eleanor. Then he resumed his seat.
Eleanor looked at the loaded plate. If she continued eating like this she’d be twice the size she already was. She pushed her chair back from the table and went to get up.
“What is it,” Juan asked.
“I need something to eat with,” she said.
“Here take mine,” he said.
Eleanor stared at the fork he offered and then up at him.
“That fork,” she said, “has been in your mouth and your mouth has been on Willow’s ––”
“What makes you think I’m the kind of man who does that?”
“Because you are.”
Juan laughed, nodded his head and stood up. Still amused, he rummaged through the utensil drawer and selected one for Eleanor.
Sitting back down, he asked, “What do you do around here on Sundays,” while watching Eleanor lift a slice of crisp bacon from the plate.
“Watch TV, or read, or listen to music so that I won’t hear you and Willow fucking across the hall.”
“I know,” she said, shoving a spoon full of eggs in her mouth. “That’s why I turn the music up, loud.”
“That won’t be happening today,” he said.
Eleanor just stared at him.
“Why don’t we,” he said, “tackle my room so you don’t have to wedge anything under your door, tonight?”
Bright and early Monday morning, Juan Carlos and Eleanor walked out of the parking garage across the street from 101 W. Congress Parkway. They were there with their signed marriage license to apply for an Adjustment of Status for Juan.
They entered the stately building, bypassing the people in front of the building protesting the President’s anti-immigration policies.
They were directed down one marble hallway after another until finding their way to Chicago’s office of the United States Citizenship Immigration Services’ waiting Room.
They were told to take a seat and wait their turn. Sitting next to one another, in the nearly empty room, they were both nervous and fearful that Juan would not get to stay in the United States.
Eliza D. Ankum
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