(WP) The Golden Years

(WP) The Golden Years

               She was
awoken by the phone ringing shrilly.

               Normally,
she and Henry were in bed by 9:00 PM, at the latest. But the night before had
been long and strenuous. She wondered if they were getting too old for this
gig.

She refused to get a cell phone;
she nor her husband, Henry, could figure out how the darn things worked. No, they
were perfectly fine with a landline, thank you very much.

Eleanor was greeted by a mad cacophony
of voices, and she found herself smiling.

“Happy 75th birthday, Mom!” Her
daughter, Tessa, chirped into the phone. She could hear her grandchildren in
the background, squabbling. “We have a surprise for you and Daddy later. Is it
okay if we bring the kids?”

“Of course, you can bring them!”
Eleanor replied, laughing. “You know your father and I, the more the merrier.”

Henry was already out of bed, and
Eleanor finished up the conversation with her daughter.

“Timothy and his kids are coming also.
We’ll see you later, Mom! We love you!”

Eleanor put the phone back into its
cradle, putting her feet in a pair of baby blue slippers.

“Henry! The children are coming
over later to see us! What are you up to?”

She found her husband in the kitchen,
preparing breakfast. There was a bowl of oatmeal already sitting on the table,
studded with raisins and bananas. Sitting beside it on a saucer was a cupcake,
frosted with the number 75 in the icing.

“I was making breakfast for my
favorite person,” Henry told her, smiling so widely his dark eyes crinkled up
at the corners. “Everyone deserves to be made breakfast on their birthday.
Especially their 75th!”

Eleanor found herself blushing.
Really, she was too old for all of this fuss. But she couldn’t deny she was
secretly pleased.

She sat down and ate the cupcake
first, relishing the sweetness. Normally, she ate healthy, all the time, but
she figured that since it was her birthday, she would make an exception.

“I asked for the day off,” Henry
told her, sitting across from her and eating his cereal. “I don’t know if we’ll
actually get it, but it was worth a shot.” He shrugged. At a year younger than
Eleanor, he was still spry and fit. After all, their job demanded it. And
family or not, there were very few breaks.

They both enjoyed their jobs, especially
in their prime, but she found herself wondering, once again, if they should’ve
hung up their capes a few years ago. What about their retirement?

“Thank you, Henry,” Eleanor said,
and he beamed in reply. “I love you, Ellie.”

**

Soon, the house was abuzz with the
sounds of shrieking children, crying, and laughter. Eleanor didn’t mind. With
her and Henry, it was too quiet, even for her.

Tessa and Timothy were in the
kitchen, putting several wrapped gifts on the table. Tessa was sipping a cup of
tea, and Tim was nursing a beer. They were talking, while their spouses focused
on wrangling the children.

Everyone insisted that Eleanor not
lift a finger; her children had even brought her lunch from her favorite café.
She sat at the table with her food, eating contentedly, lulled by the
controlled chaos around her.

Then the phone rang, and Henry
answered it. Immediately, Eleanor could tell it wasn’t good news.

“Yes. Yes, sir. Okay, sir, we’ll be
right there.”

He hung up, and looked at Eleanor.

“We’ve got a problem at work.”

She had a feeling he’d been about
to say that. But saving the world never stopped, not even for an old woman’s
birthday.

**