The unforgiving fluorescent lights exposed the shabby basement, highlighting the molasses colored soda stains on the tan carpet, the pulls and pills of the overused tweed couch, the dark brown of the knotty pine slatted wall laid like jail cell bars that boxed us in. Aidan, my toe headed five year old, was cradled in the arms of the exhausted overstuffed red recliner that could have fit three of him. His short legs were crossed at his sockless ankles just coming to the edge of the arm. Scott nudged me from behind, his fingers like rounded daggers pressing into my spine; I planted my feet firmly on the worn carpet, trying to eke out just a little more time for my son to be oblivious to the world of divorce.
Sensing us there, Aidan turned toward his father. Scott’s thick eyebrows were knitted together, his mouth tight and crooked resembling the haphazard bookshelf that he leaned on. Instantly, that kilowatt smile of Aidan’s, the one that caused his eyes to squint, disappeared. Nervous of his father’s stern face, he pressed his hands together and rocked his hips back and forth causing the ancient chair to squeak with complaints.
I knelt before him and plastered on an “everything-is-fine smile” to hide my tortured eyes. I slid my hands up the sides of his corduroys feeling the fibers rise against the grain, pulled him forward, and wrapped his legs around my middle. Shakily but with resignation I said, “Aidan, daddy and I want to talk to you about something.”
I drew in a long breath of musty cellar air, irritating my parched throat. “What we’ve decided,” Looking down at the shaggy carpet I focused on a stain and repeated, “What we’ve decided is that daddy is going to go live with Grandma."