Is This Seat Taken? By Kat Cade

Other people wash their cars. My husband valets his. Stan follows a ritual that has kept him out of the house every Sunday morning since 1991. 

Last Sunday he had just finished vacuuming the footwells with a soft brush attachment when a young man appeared at the passenger door. 

“Is this seat taken?” He grinned, climbing in without invitation. 

I was taken by surprise when my husband appeared at the door 19 minutes earlier than normal. My first thought was that the kitchen clock must have run out of battery. 

“He’s found you.” That was all he said. I continued to fold laundry. 

“Well, he can’t stay for lunch. I only have enough pork for two.” I responded calmly without looking up. 

I hoped he’d be thrown by my blasé response, but he wasn’t. My strong and reliable Stan. Greenwich could set their clock by him. 

He flicked the kettle on and placed three mugs on the counter. “Do you want to meet him?” I didn’t, but it was clear the decision had already been made. 

“No photographs.” I replied. 

Stan disappeared and returned with the cocky young man. Full of the type of confidence my mother regarded as lack of intelligence or education. Certainly a lack of class. 

He didn’t look at me, but wandered down the hall remarking on the family portraits and graduation photos hanging on the wall. It was excruciating, I moved to leave. 

“This is Danny.” Stan announced, blocking my escape. Then, sensing my discomfort he added, “He seems to know a lot about classic cars.” 

I turn and look at my son for the first time in 32 years. 

“Daniel.” My chest full of guilt, I address the stranger directly, “I named you Daniel so that you would survive the lion’s den.”

Published in Issue #14

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