I knew Rose was in trouble because my dad said "Hey, kid, why don't you go sleep in our bed tonight?"
Which meant only one thing--he was planning to sit in the chair in the front room and wait for her to come home, at which point he was expecting a discussion that probably wouldn't be conducive to someone who was sleeping on the couch.
I always felt like waiting up in the front room would've been so much more of an impressive gesture if he'd owned a shotgun that he could lay across his lap. A shiny, polished Browning rifle, catching the gleam of the streetlamp as the door slid open.
As it was, I knew he would be sitting in the chair with his latest book. The touch-sensitive lamp on to it's dimmest setting.
My mom had looked hesitant as she headed to work that night, sending meaningful backward glances at my dad. I was bursting to know what they were all fighting about, but I knew full well that my parents wouldn't tell me straight out. I would have to stay awake and catch the discussion, that was all. Or wait until Rose was in the mood to vent while we were brushing our teeth. She did that less and less, though, so eavesdropping was my best chance.
I took a long, cool shower, to kill time. I would splay my fingers and watch the water run off the tips in little arcs. I used one of the guest soaps that was shaped like a seashell. I shaved my legs for maybe the third time in my life. Then I stretched into a long-sleeved t-shirt and flannel pajama pants. I brushed and flossed my teeth. Twice.
I sighed. And looked at the little digital clock by the sink. It was 10:00.
I walked out to the front room and found my dad with his head bent over a battered copy of Egypt: An Economic Geography. He was a sucker for the giveaway bin at the library. I kissed the top of his head and he smiled at me absentmindedly.
"G'night, love. Sleep tight."
I nodded, "Sure, Dad. Good luck."
I walked down the narrow hall and climbed into the sunken mattress in my parent's bedroom. I turned off the overhead light. I stayed awake, for the longest time, listening to the soft sound of my dad turning the pages of his book. I was determined to stay awake until Rose got home, to find out what they were fighting about.
But Rose didn't come home that night.