https://images.pexels.com/photos/667986/pexels-photo-667986.jpeg?auto=compress&cs=tinysrgb&dpr=1&w=500 [source](https://images.pexels.com/photos/667986/pexels-photo-667986.jpeg?auto=compress&cs=tinysrgb&dpr=1&w=500) ### The living room window surely had shades, but the house had seen better days, and the college boys inside apparently had nothing to hide. Not in the front room, anyway. She didn't want to imagine what might be going on in the bedrooms. She had parked her Crysler minivan on this street and slept fitfully through the night. Now she watched for signs that the house was empty. A skinny kid with messy hair was the fourth one to leave, wearing a backpack with his faded jeans and a Notre Dame shirt, so she decided to make her move. The door was locked, of course, but she'd had a son in college, and she knew where to look for a spare key. Not under the mat or the flower pot, but in a crevice, yes, under the roof beams of the front porch. Bingo. She let herself in, humming a Beatles song, "she came in through the bathroom window," but she was using a door. And "window" could refer to something more than a pane of glass. This was her window of opportunity if she played her cards right and didn't run out of cliches. As expected, the place looked like only bachelors lived here. Furnished in vintage Goodwill and streetside pick-ups, buried in dust, with empty beer bottles and whiskey glasses on wooden end tables, and the kitchen, dear God, with a sink piled full of dirty dishes, a greasy stove top heaped with unwashed kettles and petrified tomato sauce spills. She cleaned out the fridge first and set the freezer to defrost, then started unloading her groceries and cleaning supplies from the van. Looking very natural, of course, like she had been here many times. After tackling the worst of the grime and slime, she started cooking in the pans she had packed from home. Bread dough rising, a massive chuck roast in the oven, potatoes and carrots, and a Devil's Food cake. She tried to whistle while she worked, like Snow White, but she had podcasts to listen to on her Blue Tooth. "Marital Rape," she was done with. "If He's So Great, Why Do I Feel So Bad?" was on now. *** !(https://cdn.steemitimages.com/DQmSMJMnPgRfjeDfujJ61zrXL5PyUiHBJXbkS4WGUGQBLaC/image.png) [source](https://www.amazon.com/Hes-Great-Why-Feel-Bad/dp/B07BHS33R2/ref=tmm_aud_swatch_0?_encoding=UTF8&qid=1558380246&sr=8-1-fkmr3) ### Dwayne would never find her here. Still, she checked the front window every few minutes out of habit. Late in the afternoon, as she pulled fresh-baked bread from the oven, the front door opened. "Damn," said the skinny kid with the faded jeans. "We have a fairy godmother!" "Or a home intruder," said the tall, dark-haired guy who appeared to Middle Eastern. Dwayne would feel for his conceal-and-carry and keep a close watch on that one. A phlebotomist in a hijab at the hospital had almost sent him into a headline-news story. Incredibly, the hospitals let anyone come and go without going through a metal detector. Any lunatic, any mad husband like Dwayne, could walk right in. She played it cool. "Not a fairy, I promise. Just trying to surprise Danny on his birthday." The two students traded glances. "Uh, I don't want to disappoint you, but nobody named Danny lives here." She laughed. "Good one!" The layer cake felt cool to the touch, and she kept her gaze averted as she flipped the first round onto a plate, dipped a spatula into a bowl of chocolate frosting, and began icing the cake. "Oh," she said, pausing with the spatula in hand to meet their puzzled faces. "I'm Laura Jensen, Danny's mom." "Um. It wasn't a joke." The skinny one bit his lip. "I don't know who Danny is, but I'd love to know his mother better." Laura laughed again, as if he was quite the comedian. "Well, then, I'm pleased to make your acquaintance." The door opened again. Another of the four young men she'd spotted the night before, the white-blond with invisible lashes. Minutes later, another. It was Happy Hour. She had brought along a six pack of Budweiser and got it out of the fridge. "Why wait for Danny?" she said. "Go on, help yourselves. I made enough to feed a small army. Just don't ruin your appetite with the bread and cheese." The guys mumbled things to each other, shrugged, looked at her, mumbled some more. "Mrs. Jensen," said the white-blond. "I hate to say this, but your son Danny, he doesn't live here. We don't know who he is." She blinked, trying to look astonished. "But this is the address he gave me." Producing tears and a quaver in her voice was effortless. She had driven two days straight and this was Day Three without Dwayne. He hadn't caught up to her yet. With any luck, he never would. "If he didn't want me to stop by and see him for the first time since last fall, he could have just said so. Today is his golden birthday. Age 21 on the 21st of April. Once in a lifetime." There really was a Danny, and he really had turned 21 on the 21st of April, seven years earlier. But they didn't need to know that. They just needed to fall in love with her food and her housekeeping skills and beg her to stay the night. And another. And another. She wouldn't overstay her welcome, but she couldn't afford hotels or the risk of surveillance cameras or a paper trail. She could sleep in the minivan, come in during the day to cook and sneakily use their shower, maybe advertise herself as Rent-a-Mom, and hire herself out to Ivy Leaguers who would pay for the motherly love their mothers couldn't send in the mail. It was all so sudden, she really hadn't thought it through. This was just an idea she dared to try out. "Poor Danny," said the Middle-Easterner. "Lucky us." *Wait til you see what I cook up tomorrow,* she almost said. *** https://cdn.pixabay.com/photo/2015/10/26/14/20/feast-1007221__340.jpg [source](https://cdn.pixabay.com/photo/2015/10/26/14/20/feast-1007221__340.jpg) ### [Day 577: 5 Minute Freewrite: Monday - Prompt: window](https://steemit.com/freewrite/@mariannewest/day-577-5-minute-freewrite-monday-prompt-window) ### Thank you for reading, and sorry this ran on so long without being anywhere close to finished. Scrap-binned for another day: > She fell into the familiar role of engaging the guys in conversation, a skill that had made her a favorite bartender, in her life before Dwayne. > She'd repainted the minivan with several cans of charcoal gray spray paint. The license plates were illegible with dirt and mud from the gravel roads she took getting away from the house in Bristol. And she was twenty pounds lighter, not that Dwayne had caught on, but he'd have plenty to say if he could see her now, wearing clothes that had been boxed the attic since she hit age 40 and couldn't shake the weight gain. Hospital stays were not the best way to kick-start a diet, but her bout with e-coli had proved to be good for something. > The old house, converted into an apartment now shared by four engineering majors, had belonged to her professor once upon a time. The one she never mentioned to Dwayne. At nineteen she'd dreamed of marrying Dr. Ellis, but he was twice her age, 40-something, and he kept her infatuation for him at a safe distance. The math tortured her. When she was 39 he was 60-something, not 80-something, and when she turned fifty he should have been a hundred, but only for a short time was he twice her age. For a long time, she was married to Dwayne, but that was going to change.