Beth, in California

Beth was tired of living in California. They’d been here a year now and the relentless blue sky and sunshine were wearing her down. She wished just once she’d hear a different weather report, one that said we’re looking at a significant amount of rain overnight and into the morning commute. Leave yourself extra time in the morning. Just once wanted to see the weather guy miserable, pale and shivering but he was invariably unruffled, always perfectly coifed, dressed, tanned and toothed.

The move south and west had been good for Gary and his career. But most of the time Beth felt sorry for herself. She was home with their toddler, Percy, who seemed to have taken a dislike to the sun much like her own. He screamed if she took him outside. He was only quiet in air conditioning or in the pool. She spent her days feeling chilly, water-logged, or with a headache from listening to Percy scream and squinting her eyes in the sun. She didn’t like to wear sunglasses.

She missed their house back home in Toronto. But it wasn’t their house anymore. Even though Gary had promised this move was temporary, three years max, he’d said, they’d sold their house, their first house. Now somebody else was sitting inside cozy by the fire watching the snow pile up outside. Beth wanted to watch the snow pile up outside. She wanted to put on jeans and a sweater instead of another Goddamn sundress and sandals.

The lemon tree in the backyard was loaded with fruit. What were they supposed to do with all those lemons? The only thing she could think of was Caesar salad. Caesar salad and putting the juice in your hair to lighten it. She and her friend Susan had spent an entire summer with lemon juice in their hair. It was supposed to give lovely blonde streaks. She didn’t remember any blonde streaks but she remembered she hated the smell of lemon juice.

Percy had finally settled down for his afternoon nap, asleep on his side with his polar bear clutched under his left arm.

Beth made herself a cup of hot tea. She was sick of iced tea. She sat at the kitchen table with a pen and a stack of postcards showing a sunny beach scene. Hi all, she wrote, thinking about you in cold snowy Toronto as I sit under the lemon tree in our beautiful backyard. The garden smells heavenly! I’m not sure what we’ll do with all these lemons. Wish you were here to help us eat them.