A perfect storm of forty factors led to their discussion of coconut water and all the good it has done for people.
The first factor was the day, which was Mother’s Day.
The second factor was her recent miscarriage.
The third factor was the difficult night they’d passed, Mother’s Day Eve, during which she could not sleep on account of the pain and kept asking him to get various items from the kitchen. So when she requested they spend the morning running an errand together, he said of course.
The errand was a visit to factor number four, Home Depot, an establishment he generally loathed.
Which was why the fifth factor surprised them both. The visit to Home Depot went smoothly, even pleasantly. They quickly found the items they sought, a series of interlocking metal fence panels for the garden to keep the neighbor’s dog from eating all her lettuce starts. On their way to the check stand, they paused to discuss the brand and scale of grill they might someday own.
The sixth factor was the neighborhood this Home Depot was located in. Three times he said he’d never been on this street before.
Factor seven was the extra errand she requested they tack on to the outing, given how smoothly the Home Depot segment went: a quick swing by the co-op for a couple groceries she needed.
Factor eight was a direct consequence of the first, the Mother’s Day factor, which meant she had called her own mother earlier that morning and left a message and her mother was now calling her back.
Factor number nine was his pet peeve for her talking lengthily to her mother on the phone while he was driving and in need of navigational assistance.
Factor ten was the missing of a turn, a left.
The eleventh factor was the illegality of like eleven left turns in a row. They were driving down a divided highway, and eleven stoplights in a row had no-left-turn-allowed signs swinging from each. This meant the co-op was quickly many miles behind them.
The dozenth factor was the stack of twelve metal fence sections they had just purchased from Home Depot, which were now bouncing the fuck around in the back of their SUV, rattling and clanging and sliding and clashing against each other like cymbals in a high school marching band on Adderall.
The baker’s dozenth factor was all the hand gestures and facial expressions she made every time he passed yet another left turn without making a left turn despite the illegality of each left turn which she may or may not have been suggesting he take anyway.
The fourteenth factor was his silence.
The fifteenth factor was the right turn she told him to take before telling her mother on the phone how terrible he was with directions because he was stubborn and didn’t listen and then she was quiet for several seconds and then she laughed and said I know, right?
The sixteenth factor was what he imagined her mother had just said.
The seventeenth factor was her hanging up and saying what the hell are you doing?
The eighteenth factor was his wanting to strike the steering wheel but not striking the steering wheel and instead steeling himself deeper into silence.
The nineteenth, twenty-first, twenty-third, and twenty-fifth factors were the first, second, third, and fourth times she told him to take this turn, this turn right here, turn, take this turn, which he did not.
The twentieth, twenty-second and twenty-fourth factors were the first, second, and third times he said he can’t, that no left turns are allowed here or any goddamned U-turns, either.
The twenty-sixth factor was when he finally did, in fact, strike the steering wheel pretty hard, honking it.
The twenty-seventh was again.
Again the twenty-eighth.
The twenty-ninth factor was when she said on Mother’s Day, on Mother’s Day no less.
Factor thirty was when he said I don’t give a rat’s bubonic asshole about a holiday Hallmark invented to sell folded paper.
The thirty-first through thirty-ninth factors were each sequential minute of silence they passed while he drove aimlessly through downtown and out of downtown before she quietly said pull over here and he did, an act which constituted the fortieth and final factor.
Then they talked. They talked about all forty factors leading up to this moment. He said sorry. She said sorry. Then he said he still wants to drive her to the co-op. She said first to do something about those fucking fence things. So he did. He put them in the back seat under a blanket where they couldn’t bounce around insanely. Then he drove back to the co-op they had missed like ninety-nine left turns ago.
He pushed the cart, and the visit went smoothly, even pleasantly. She bought fifteen bunches of celery and frozen blueberries and almond flour tortillas. She asked him if he wanted a cookie. He laughed and said no, thanks. She said you must have a treat. He said, how about a coconut water? So she bought him a coconut water.
Back in the SUV, he drank several gulps and handed her the carton, and she had a sip and said ah, coconut water. What were people even doing before it caught so on? He said the first thing he ever heard about coconut water was that it could be used for a blood transfusion in a pinch. She said exactly, that’s what I mean. Just think about all the good that coconut water has done for so many people.
I didn’t realize how difficult reading can be sometimes,
..the dozenth factor …The baker’s dozenth factor – lumpy, clumpy and totally indigestible! Then, after interminable numbers, we’re back to coconut milk – sorry, it didn’t work for me.
This is a great, original story! The body ticks along at a growing neurotic pace with a stressed-out tone, while the beginning and end flank it with some sadness and calm, their love of coconut water a way of bonding again & dealing with loss (at least that’s how I interpreted it.)
Don’t get the numbers.
I liked it 🙂 I did find baker’s dozenth a bit of a stretch, but otherwise a great capture of a marital spat!
I get the sense from the above comments that this is a forum for constructive criticism. As I did not read this with a critical eye but an absorptive “curious what Dan has to say” eye, the numbers worked perfectly for me. This felt honest and true.