One Day at a Time

Sylvie loved to plan. So, when her mother’s playgroup asked her to arrange the fun activities for the next academic year, she jumped at the chance and bought a huge poster board to outline the main events at their next meeting. When her husband pleaded with her to organize this year’s work get-togethers, she grabbed her colored markers and fashioned a list of interesting icebreakers. The pièce de resistance was when her mom insisted that she contact all the family members about who would bring what for the Thanksgiving dinner. Finally! She could make sure that there were a variety of vegetables rather than an overabundance of mincemeat pies.

Monday and Tuesday were a blur of activity. Wednesday, she woke up to dark clouds on what should have been a bright, sunny day. She flipped the light bedsheet off her slim body and let it fall on her husband’s prone form. Except, he wasn’t there.

Fighting annoyance at these two contrary elements in her otherwise perfectly planned day, Sylvie leaped from her bed. And slipped on a sheen of water pooled before the French doors. Landing on her behind, she yelped in surprise. She stared at the open doors, the grey clouds still dribbling pathetic drops, and huffed. She was getting wet, and she didn’t have time for that.

She climbed to her feet, one hand holding the bedpost, and murmured under her breath. “Stupid weather report. It wasn’t supposed to rain last night. I would’ve shut the doors.”

A wail caught her attention. Baby Francie crying for breakfast, undoubtedly.

With a few alterations to her steps, she performed her daily ritual—slipped on her prearranged day clothes, changed the baby’s diaper, dressed her in a cute summer outfit, and swung into the kitchen. She checked the daily menu. Ah, yes! Bran muffins with sliced bananas, juice, and black coffee for Dan. She frowned as she prepared the meal. Dan? Where was he? He had said something about a new exercise routine, but he should’ve told her when he was going to start. She had made exactly six muffins yesterday and that meant he could have two for breakfast and take two for lunch, leaving just two for her and the baby. What was she going to do with four extra muffins?

The coffee maker spluttered and beeped—announcing in appliance talk— Mission Accomplished. Her stomach dropped at the sight of the half-full carafe. She hated the taste of coffee. Now it was going to go to waste. How terribly sad! If only Dan had informed her of his change of plans.

The rest of the morning went as scheduled but when she pushed the cart down the shopping aisle, she was horrified to discover that all the Wednesday specials had been discontinued. Normally, she could find wonderful baked bread and dessert goodies at half price on the Wednesday-special cart, but it was nowhere to be seen. How disappointing! She almost asked the store manager but decided that she didn’t want to seem like a complainer. She’d just have to wait till next week to have her sister over for tea and cake.

As rain poured from the sky, she rushed from the car with a bag of groceries and the baby clutched in her arms. She sped into her warm, stuffy house, fretting at the fact that the forecasters were really losing their touch. How could she plan any outdoor activities if they couldn’t even warn her about a torrential storm?

Mechanically, she changed the baby into dry clothes, put the groceries away, checked the crockpot roast, and then sorted through her mail. No surprises there. Two bills and three advertisements.

One bill caught her eye. She frowned at it. It was due in two days! How could they do that? Even under the best of conditions, it often took three days for mail to travel across the country. Now she’d be hit with a late penalty! And she had itemized their billing down to the last penny.

Ugh! With the loss of the specials cart, the forecasters’ failure, Dan’s irresponsible communication skills, and now facing a late fee, she didn’t know how she could suck up the courage to finish her planning schedule.

She plunked Francie into the playpen with freshly washed toys and labored to her bedroom. She tugged off her wet shirt and pants.

With robust steps, Dan entered the house, called out, “Hey, I’m home!” and then tread across the living room floor.

Francie squealed.

Dan had surely swung her high into his arms.

Ignoring the fact that she’d have to wear the outfit she had planned to save for tomorrow’s play-day gathering, she pulled on a clean shirt and pants and combed her hair. A glum face peered back at her from the mirror.

Dan sauntered in, both he and the baby smiling from ear to ear.

Irritated to the breaking point, Sylvie brushed past her husband and pounded into the kitchen. She’d put her perfect dinner on the table even though he certainly didn’t deserve it.

Hot steam flushed her face when she swiped the cover off the crockpot.

Dan hustled in behind her. “What’s wrong, Honey?”

After sliding the roast onto a receiving platter, she ladled the potatoes and carrots into a bowl with precise motions. “It would be nice if you’d tell me of any change of plans. I try to run this house as well as I can, but I can’t do anything right if you go around changing things without telling me.” She placed the vegetable bowl in the center of the table and the meat platter to the left.

A perplexed frown etched its way across Dan’s forehead. “What change of plans? I did everything pretty much the same as I always do.”

Opening her eyes extra-wide, Sylvie decided to lure him in so he could see his mistake himself. It’s no good always making it easy on husbands. They never learn if you do that, heaven knows. “What time did you go into work this morning?”

“The usual.”

“Really? I made special muffins for us, and you weren’t here to eat them.” There. Now he’ll be sorry!

“We have our board meeting at 6:30 on Tuesdays. Always have. You know that.”

“But not on Wednesdays!” Ah, ha! She’d caught him now. He really should be ashamed.

Dan stared at his wife. Then he turned to his baby daughter. “Do you know what she’s talking about?”

Francie drooled, grinned, and mashed syllables together into what could best be translated into “U-goo-ah-mmm-brp.”

Steam blew out of Sylvie’s ears.

Slapping his head, Dan jogged himself and baby out of the room, pounded up the stairs, slapped stuff around in her workroom, making Sylvie’s eyes nearly pop from her head, and then plodded back downstairs.

She slapped napkins on the table like a general laying out his battle plans.

Dan tossed her color-coded calendar on the counter. “I knew it! And I was right.” He nearly howled in laughter.

Francie wasn’t sure she wanted to take matters that far. She offered a baby scowl to the world in general.

Tears welling in her eyes at the sacrilegious treatment of her plans, Sylvie sniffed back a choking sob. “How can you be so heartless? I worked hard on those plans, and you’re treating them like a game. And it was you who missed my muffins!”

Instantly contrite, Dan wrapped one arm around his wife in a buck-up, you’ll-make-it-through hug. “You marked Tuesday off the calendar. You never mark a day off until you go to bed.”

A pathetic tear meandered down Sylvie’s face. She swiped it away. No point in adding to her pain. “Of course, I did that last night. Why are you acting so devilishly mean?”

“What day does that make today?”

The image of a snake spitting venom filled Sylvie’s mind. She bit off the word. “Wednesday.”

Dan hugged her tighter. “No, honey. It’s Tuesday. Has been all day. You’ve been so busy, you packed two days into one.”

The thought that her husband was insane only bothered her a little less than the idea that he might be on to something. The world tilted. The universe expanded. Her baby burped. Then she met her husband’s eyes. And knew.

At the mom’s playday gathering, Sylvie treated the assembly to her color-coded chart and a dazzling array of baked specials from the Wednesday specials cart. Her husband’s co-workers patted Dan on the back for the best icebreakers they’d ever enjoyed at a work meeting. And Thanksgiving dinner was now well-planned and nutritionally balanced.

Only her husband and baby Francie knew that from that fateful Tuesday, despite Sylvie’s love of planning, she made sure that she lived only one day at a time.

Books by A. K. Frailey

Historical Fiction & Science Fiction Blend Novels

OldEarth ARAM Encounter

OldEarth Ishtar Encounter

OldEarth Neb Encounter

OldEarth Georgios Encounter

OldEarth Melchior Encounter (In Production)

Science Fiction Novels

Last of Her Kind

Newearth: Justine Awakens

Short Stories

It Might Have Been—And Other Short Stories

Encounter Science Fiction Short Stories & Novella

Inspirational Non-Fiction

My Road Goes Ever On—Spiritual Being, Human Journey

The Road Goes Ever On—A Christian Journey Through The Lord of the Rings

Children’s Book

The Adventures of Tally-Ho


Hope’s Embrace & Other Poems


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