The Weekend


Every week, by Thursday afternoon, Harvey starts to feel anxious. There’s just one more day until the weekend. He sits at his desk, in his cubical, in the main office of United Insurance Company, on the seventh floor of the Stratford Building, in the heart of downtown Cleveland, Ohio, in what is sometimes referred to as the greatest country in the world, on a planet with a sun and a moon and too many stars to count, in a universe possibly surrounded by many other universes, and he worries about the weekend.

Harvey prefers the order of week days when he awakens at 5:15 am and catches the 7:05 blue line at Lynnfield. Thirty minutes later he’s downtown, cup of coffee in hand, on the elevator to the seventh floor, watching the numbers light up. As an actuarial, his days are filled with numbers and statistics. At 5 pm he clears his desk and reverses his morning routine, going home to his wife, Wilhelmina, who prefers to be called Willow. She knows what he likes to eat and seldom disappoints him. After dinner, he watches an hour or two of TV and does some reading before going to bed.

Weekends, however, are different. They belong to Willow and are therefore treacherously unpredictable for Harvey. Saturday mornings, while eating his breakfast cereal, Harvey listens as his wife tells him of dripping faucets, chipping paint, windows that stick, and the elderly neighbor who does his morning exercises on his back porch in his underwear.

This Saturday morning, while Willow was still going on about the immodest neighbor, Harvey notices a ripple in the milk at the bottom of his cereal bowl. Looking up, he sees that the light that hangs over the table is beginning to swing. What are the odds, Harvey wonders, of an earthquake in Shaker Heights? He is pretty sure there are no seismic risk assessments for Cuyahoga County and very low risk for Ohio since there was little historical record of insurance payments for property damage from earthquakes and no reported deaths. Harvey returns to his breakfast. But now the house is definitely beginning to shake. Dishes fall from cabinets as Willow holds onto the sink with a look that says, “Harvey, do something!” Maybe it’s Willow’s expression or the breaking glass, but Harvey starts moving. Grabbing Willow, he pulls her from the sink and into the doorway where they stand for a moment, staring at one another as if they are strangers as the house trembles around them. Then they make a frantic dash through the front door.

Suddenly, everything is still. The sun is shining, the sky is a deep September blue as Harvey and Wilhemina fall to the lawn, resting breathlessly there in the grass.

Harvey hears someone calling out, “Well, that was something!” He lifts his head and sees his neighbor standing in his yard, next door, in his underwear.

Harvey waves and calls back, “Yeah, that was something.” He finds that he and Willow are still holding on to each other. Harvey hugs Willow and she leans over and gives him a quick kiss on the cheek, right there on the lawn. Maybe there was an after shock or two. His heart is still racing. Willow is smiling at him as they get back onto their feet. Now Harvey hears neighbors on the street, talking, and somewhere the sound of a siren.

“It’s the weekend, what did I expect,” Harvey says to himself, and he starts thinking about his homeowner’s insurance policy.

08/28/2017 © Don Lehman