A family of four, they sit together huddled in a booth, picking over the remaining slices of pizza. The mother stares out the window, watching the passing cars. The father turns and strikes up a conversation with his youngest son about his day. Not more than ten years of age, the boy chatters on about his friends and the video game he wants to play later that evening. He turns his focus across the table and asks the same of his older son, but the teenager is short in reply. Quiet murmurs escape his lips while his eyes remain fixed on his plate; busy fingers fiddle with crust.
The father gets up to leave and asks the mother if she is going out tonight. She glares at him across the table, challenging, and in cold, flat tones replies, “Of course I am.” He looks away and does meet her gaze again.
She looks to her younger son and says, “Do you have homework to do?”
He sneers at her and replies to the affirmative. Glancing at the father she orders, “Make sure he gets it done.”
The teenager intercedes, “Don’t worry, I’ll help him.”
The two men, one taking on a role much too early for his years, walk away. The young boy, reluctant, stays put. “I’ll see you in the morning,” she says. Head hanging low he rises and follows his father.
She sits there for a few minutes, staring out that window, unseeing. Rising to leave she gathers her purse and glances again towards the glass. This time, she sees her reflection and freezes. Her face is drawn, the bags under her eyes telling more than she would ever want revealed. She raises a hand to touch her face, but stops and turns away. Grabbing her keys she walks off alone.