“Hey Mister, have you seen my glasses?”
The question isn’t urgent. Katherine can still see well enough to navigate her own home, though lord knows how long that’s going to last if she keeps squinting at NASA reports every day of her life.
Jim is in the kitchen, fixing up sandwiches so they’ll have something to eat while they watch TV. She can hear the scrape of a butter knife as he works the last of the mayonnaise out of a jar. Plans for a real picnic have been put on hold by Katherine’s overtime. Second failed date this month and they’re only a week in, but he doesn’t seem to mind. She likes that about him. No rush, unless something is really important.
“Sorry honey, I can’t see a thing in here,” he calls when he’s done clattering around.
The answer is unexpected enough that Kathy sits up and takes some notice. That tone is beyond Jim’s usual good nature and has rolled right over into irreverent. She sharpens her voice, just a bit, and slips her tired feet off the couch.
“And what do you mean by that?” She asks as she pads towards the kitchen.
Without glasses, Jim’s broad back seems even wider than usual, filling up her little room and dwarfing the icebox completely. She can’t really make out the details, but she stops to imagine them a bit. She’s always enjoyed the way the fabric of his shirts pulls a little when he moves his arms. This is her space, and he’s happy to have been let into it. Nothing wrong with taking a little advantage in return.
Then her man slaps a sandwich down a good few inches away from the pile on the plate, and whatever spell he may have had over her breaks completely. “Hey now! What exactly do you think you’re doing?”
“My best, honey. Always.”
His laugh makes always into two words and sends a little shiver down her spine. But she’s onto something now and not about to be distracted. She ducks around the bulk of him to see what kind of a mess he’s made of her countertops.
It’s about the saddest stack of sandwiches she’s ever seen, and that would be putting it nicely. Each slice of bread is at an angle. The tops don’t match up with the bottoms. There’s mustard slopping over the side, and sad curls of ham and lettuce sticking out of every which way.
Katherine cannot stand a pointless mess. She puffs out her cheeks and glares up at him, all prepared to go to town and give a member of the National Guard a lesson in neatness, no different than if he was one of her baby girls. But she’s cut off mid-breath when she catches her first blurry glimpse of his face.
Colonel Jim Johnson has a pair of spectacles on. Hers, in point of fact, and no wonder he can’t see straight. Those lenses have gotten pretty thick over the years.
“What on earth—” is all she manages.
“Just making a point, baby.” He smiles, half-teasing and half-loving. “See, I wanted to be sure you knew I could never wear the glasses in this house.”
Katherine can feel the heat in her cheeks, equal parts embarrassed and … well. Maybe just a little charmed. He is never going to let her forget that first conversation, while she’s at a point where she’d rather not remember and be get at him all over again.
But there’s something deeper going on, when a man like this is willing to play the fool and act less than competent around you.
“Well,” she huffs. “Well. I think you just wanted me to fix you up a plate.”
“Me? No,” he counters, and slides the whole leaning tower away from her to keep her from taking over operation snack. “I can pull my own weight around here. ”
Katherine’s face is warmer than ever, and she can feel that heat spreading right along her ribcage and into her heart. “I know,” she tells him, resting her head against his shoulder for a moment.
He puts an arm round her in return. “You want your glasses back?”
“Keep ‘em.” She says softly. “You look pretty handsome like that.”