Continued from Plague Life – Part III
They ate the pizza on the back-yard patio. This time of day the sun was dipping behind the oaks and only winked at them through the leaves as a light breeze kept the bugs at bay. It was good to be outside and Tommy, bored with a sit-down meal after half a slice, was fine taking a bite then running to the swings or playing catch off the shed roof and coming back for another. No surprise he had demurred on the salad his mother had made but she and Megan were enjoying the treat that fresh produce had become.
Both women sat with their backs to the house at opposite ends of the glass-topped table where they could watch him. Their legs were up on spare chairs and the glasses of iced tea sweated tiny puddles that ran zig-zagging toward the center of the table carrying crumbs along in their wakes. It was the kind of day to notice things like that. Joyce caught Megan looking at her once, but only because she had been glancing at Megan. That made Joyce smile and give her head the tiniest of shakes.
“What?” asked Megan.
“Nothing”, she answered with still the ghost of a smile. Megan noticed the fine fuzz that glittered on Joyce’s neck with the sun twinkling on them. With her eyes on Tommy running over to the table Joyce spoke without moving her head. “Slept like a rock last night.”
“You were probably due”.
Tommy stopped himself at the table and grabbed his slice of pizza. He tore at it with a roar then slapped it back onto the plate. Megan tossed him a napkin which fluttered to the ground as he wheeled and ran back to the swings.
“I think it was the massage”, said Joyce.
“Could have been. You were pretty well knotted up.”
“I felt that.” She took a sip of her drink and set it down away from the puddle it had made. “I might…I mean, …I might have a favor to ask you.”
“You can say no.” Joyce looked at her and pulled the glasses down over her nose for the second time today. Had never noticed her doing that. Was she going for coy or maybe mid-thirties cute? Whichever, she was pretty much hitting it.
“Not without hearing what it is.”
“I used to get massages at Standing Stone”, she explained. The Stone, as it was known in Joyce’s circle, was a day spa that offered a menu of pricy and elaborate massage and body treatments.
“Yeah, you’d mentioned it once or twice”
“You ever been?”
“No. Outta my league.”
“Yeah, they’re expensive. But they took good care of me every couple of weeks. I was wondering, after what you did for me last night” she paused, glancing up in the sky as if waiting for the question to be communicated to her so she could pass it along. “Can you do a full body? Or legs?” She was sliding the words out quickly, hardly opening her mouth, wanting them to be in the air but hesitant to say them. Was it dumb feeling this nervous? It was a simple question, she was telling herself, knowing full well it wasn’t and she was lying.
Megan only cared to hear that she was asking for full body massage. She had given them before with and without subtext. Megan had told Joyce about the kinesiology class but not about the sports massage workshop she had taken because an aspiring trainer in the class had talked her into it. And she also wouldn’t mention that the aspiring trainer was a short blonde from up country named Becca who’d taught her a fair amount beyond longitudinal gliding.
“I’ll pay you, of course”, said Joyce, misreading her silence.
“You will not…”
“Come on. I’d want to. This is a lot to ask…I’m feeling like I might be taking advantage.”
“It’s just that, I can do the basics, you know? Nothing the pros like they have at The Stone.”
“The Stone’s closed now. It’s just you and me…”
Megan let the last words breathe a bit as she bit into a fresh slice. Amazing how long Folino’s crust stayed crisp, even beyond the cheese cooling. Some kind of magic, no doubt. Joyce was looking her way, but the glasses were masking her eyes and this time she wasn’t pulling them down her nose. Thinking of Becca brought back memories of their early flirting. Words didn’t always mean what they seemed to mean. Or they did, but they meant something else too. Something more. Megan had been concerned that, if it came to it, she wouldn’t have the nerve to make the first move. Now maybe she didn’t have to.
“I’ll give it a shot, sure. I have some oils and lotions at home. I’ll go get them before you leave so they’ll be here whenever you want.”
Joyce stretched her legs and arched her back, stretching. “Great”, she said, her eyes back on her son.
Continuing here Plague Life – Deleted Scenes