Breathing Lessons: Excerpt 2

It seemed pointless to cook a real supper now. Jesse was always out and Daisy most often ate at Mrs. Perfect’s, or if forced to eat at home would sulk so that it wasn’t worth having her around. So Maggie just heated a couple of frozen dinners or a can of soup. Sometimes she didn’t even do that. One evening, when she had sat two hours at the kitchen table staring into space instead of making the trip to the frame shop [where he worked], Ira walked in and said: “What’s for supper?” and she said, “I can’t deal with supper! I mean look at this!” and  she waved at the can of soup in front of her. “Two and three quarters servings”, she read out. “What do they expect, I have two and three quarters people to feed? Or three, and I’ll just vie one of them less? Or maybe I’m supposed to save the rest for another meal, but do you know how long it would take me to come out even? First I’d have an extra three quarters of a serving and then six quarters and then nine. I’d have to open four cans of soup before I had leftovers that weren’t in fractions. Four cans, I tell you! Four cans of the same single flavor!”

She started crying, letting the tears roll down her cheeks luxuriously. She felt the way she had felt as a child when she knew she was behaving unreasonably, knew she was shocking the grownups and acting like a perfect horror, but all at once wanted to behave unreasonably and even took some pleasure in it.

Ira might have turned on his heel and walked out; she was half expecting that. Instead, he sank into a chair across from her. He put his elbows on the table and lowered his head into his hands.

Anne Tyler, Breathing Lessons, Part 3, Chapter 2

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