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Sixth South Excerpt 3- Joni

This excerpt features a glimpse into Joni’s troubled marriage.


“Why did you do that?” she asked Tom when he sat down to join her. “You knew I was going to say no.”

He shrugged as if it was no big deal. “Why not? She just wants to talk to her friend. I don’t see what the problem is.”

“It’s dinner time, and we should be eating as a family.” It sounded lame even to her. When was the last time they ate as a family?

Obviously that wasn’t lost on Tom, either. “Where’s Drew?” he asked pointedly.

“Out with Becky. They went to see a movie.”

“Then it’s not really a family dinner after all.”

Joni sighed. If nothing else, her husband had a talent for stating the obvious. “I suppose not.”

“Something wrong, Jo?”

“Doesn’t it bother you? Never eating as a family?”

Tom shrugged as he finished chewing. “Not really. What’s on this chicken?”

“A cheese sauce.”

“Yeah, I got that much. What’s in it, though?”

“Chipotle pepper.”

He took another bite and frowned. “It’s kind of strange.”

“You don’t like it?” Joni sighed. What else was new? She’d tried to spice up dinner and failed miserably.

“I didn’t say that I didn’t like it. I just said it was strange. Strange doesn’t have to mean bad.”

“Does it mean good?”

Another shrug. “I didn’t say that either.”

Joni speared a green bean with her fork. One of these days she would learn that trying to involve Tom in even the most basic of conversations was an exercise in futility. He flunked even simple conversation. It drove the English teacher in her absolutely crazy. Looking back, she tried to recall a time when he had been good at conversation, when they had been able to talk and laugh together. It wasn’t anytime recently, that was for sure. “I wanted to try something a little different.”

“It’s definitely different.”

She nodded and turned her attention back to her food. She thought the sauce had turned out pretty good, but she wouldn’t make it again. She’d simply file this away as a less than successful venture and move on to her next attempt at adding spice to her life.

They each ate in silence for a few minutes before she tried again. “Tom?”


“I think we need to take a vacation.”

“Sure, whatever.” He sounded anything but enthusiastic about the idea.

“Don’t you want to? I mean, we haven’t taken a real vacation together in ages.” The last time had been when they’d dropped the kids at summer camp and took off to Nova Scotia for a week. Eight years ago, but it seemed like a lifetime now.

He shrugged. “It’ll be hard to fit in our schedules. But if it means that much to you, go ahead and pick a place and let me know when you want to go. I’ll see if I can find a way to make it work.”

Joni stifled a sigh. She wanted to actually plan something together, do something together. Still, at least he hadn’t outright rejected the idea. She decided not to press the issue. “Sure, okay. Do you want more chicken, or are you ready for dessert?”

“Neither.” He pushed his chair back and got up. “I’ve got some work to finish.”


Check back tomorrow to meet Olivia.


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