|The aroma of popcorn drifts from the kitchen and mixes with the smell of the fresh, light-blue paint covering the walls of the family room, where Alicia waits on the couch. She and John were not even sure they should look for another house with a family room. They were inclined to something smaller, not even a guest room. Well, maybe a guest room, but small. A house that would wrap around them like the wings of a mother bird enfolding a nest high above predators roaming the ground below with alert and fierce gazes.
Jon enters the family room carrying the big wooden bowl. There was a time when the pre-movie popcorn conversation would flare into arguments about divergent tastes for salt and butter, before Jon and Alicia hit on the solution: separate bowls. Three hands, three bowls. Now Jon and Alicia again share the big bowl, which they decided to keep after a long conversation. They’ve had many similar conversations recently, about how much food to prepare for dinner, what to wear when they go out, when to leave when they go out, or even whether to go out at all.
What movie to watch is another conversation. There was a time when the temperature of the debate would rise: romantic comedy, action, indie. Who picked last time? But sometimes the choice would be automatic, when there were three hands in three popcorn bowls.
Jon and Alicia scan the categories on the television screen. A menu of children’s movies appears. Alicia holds the remote, frozen, staring at the screen, eyes brimming. After a long moment, Jon reaches out, removes the remote from Alicia’s hand, and navigates to another category. He chooses a nature documentary.
They dip into the popcorn. “Too salty?’ asks Jon.
“No,” Alicia replies. “It’s perfect.”
(Word count: 300)