PREPARING FOR THE HOMECOMING—DUTY CALLS
(37TH installment, Scruggs and Samantha, by Mary de la Pena)
After making all the preparations to bring home a new dog and kitten, I decided to do my wifely duties and call the law office.
“Law Office,” the Prince answered.
“Why are you answering the phone?” I asked.
“Staff is off getting lunch. I ordered a fish taco for you, if that’s okay?” he answered.
I smothered my irritation at his assumption that I would be coming to the office. I knew I had to go in, but it was the last thing I wanted to do. As my mind raced around what I had accomplished, I knew there was nothing left for me to do at the house. But I still yearned to be free from other people’s problems for just that day. Alas, duty called. I needed to go to the office no matter how badly I wanted never to enter that place again.
“Yes,” I sighed. “I’m done here and on my way in.”
“Thank you, little girl,” he answered.
Driving into the office I thought about my husband’s last statement to me on the phone. His voice had been sweet and relieved. I wondered what was happening that he needed me.
When I arrived at the office it was in a chaotic uproar. Every chair in the waiting room was filled, and there were people waiting in the hallway.
I tried to enter the office without drawing attention to myself but our secretary must have caught the movement out of the corner of her eye. She almost tackled me as I headed to my office to put down my purse and briefcase.
“M. J.,” she said, almost in tears. “M. J., there’s all these people here, they don’t have appointments, they all want to talk to you and you have all these messages, and what do you want to do first?”
“Where’s my partner?” I asked.
“He’s in his office with clients, and he hasn’t eaten yet, and you know how mad you get at me when he doesn’t eat, and I don’t know what to do,” she said, this time with tears spilling onto her cheeks.
As much as I wanted to choke her, I decided that given the chaos, it wasn’t the time to perfect my murder skills. Instead, I took a deep breath, grabbed the messages from her hand, and leafed through them. Most were not urgent, but there were a couple from opposing attorneys that needed my prompt attention.
“Okay, listen,” I told her. “Let me return a couple of these calls. Tell the people waiting I’ll be with them in order that they came in.”
My secretary rolled her eyes at me, swiped at her tears, then left me to answer my calls.
My afternoon turned into a blur of activity. I met with several clients, prepared paperwork for their signature while they waited, returned numerous phone calls, and quieted a sobbing mother whose son had been arrested for robbery. The phone never stopped ringing, and my headache never abated.
Before I knew it, the afternoon had passed and it was five o’clock.
“Oh, my God! Scruggs and Samantha!”
It was my turn for my eyes to tear. There were still people in the waiting room and the door to Prince Charming’s office was closed.
As the pressure behind my eyes grew, I also felt myself get angry. He knew how important it was to be at the shelter before six o’clock. He knew how important it was for him to be there to help me. Again resentment grew inside me at the thought that, once again, he was leaving me to handle it.
Yet, even as I grew frustrated and angry, a voice inside my head reminded me that I was the one who wanted to adopt the animals. It was my decision to get a dog and the cat. It wasn’t my husband who had made this leap, it was me. I swallowed my anger, replacing it with resignation as I decided I would just go by myself. We didn’t have time to drop one of the cars at the house before going to the shelter, so I decided I would go on my own, leaving him to join me if he could.
But, as I knocked on the door to his office, he opened it himself. He was standing, as were his clients. “M. J.,” he said, “I was just telling these people I needed to leave. I have an appointment to adopt a dog and kitten tonight.”
He was smiling and his eyes were shining as he said that. I felt my heart roll over in my chest, and the tears that were starting to fall changed to tears of appreciation instead of disappointment.
He took my arm and winked at me, then turned to our secretary. “You’ll just need to tell the others that they’ll have to come back tomorrow. I’m sorry, but my wife and I have an appointment to get a couple of new kids.”
Her eyes bulged out of their sockets momentarily as she stammered her acquiescence.
“Come on, little girl,” he said smiling at me. “We’ve got to bring Scruggies and Samantha home!”