Telling your family that you’ve been laid off

(written by lawrence krubner, however indented passages are often quotes). You can contact lawrence at:

This was from a fiction workshop I was part of. This was my effort.

Jeffery and Anthony pulled up to the curb in front of the house. Jeffery looked out the house, but he did not move.

Anthony, who was in the driver’s seat, watched his friend for a long moment, and then said, “You’ve got to tell them.”

There was no reaction from Jeffery. Perhaps he had not heard.

“You’ve got to tell them,” repeated Anthony.

Jeffery took a deep breath, then pulled his shoulders up tight, then allowed them to slump down.

“Yes,” said Jeffery, acknowledging Anthony. “Yes.”

Then Jeffery opened the door, and got out of the car. He picked up the bag with his laptop and swung it over his shoulder. Then he leaned back down toward the window.

“Well, I guess I’ll see you sometime,” he said.

“Don’t be like that,” said Anthony. “Don’t talk like that. Let’s get together tomorrow. Don’t let this get you down. We’ll go out. We’ll have some drinks.”

“Don’t let this get me down!” shouted Jeffery with a touch of anger and amazement. “Sure! Sure! No problem! I won’t let this get me down!”

“For God’s Sake,” shouted Anthony, “It’s the economy! It’s not you! Don’t take it personally! And your boss was completely psycho! You said that yourself!”

“Yes, okay, whatever,” murmured Jeffery. There was no more anger in his voice.

“Let’s get together tomorrow,” said Anthony. “I’ll give you a call, and you better answer!”

“Whatever,” said Jeffery.

Then Anthony put his car in gear and drove off.

Jeffery turned, and looked at the house. He recalled another time, long before, when Melinda had first suggested they have children. He had postponed the question for a year, then another year, then another year. She accursed him of being a coward, of being dishonest, of avoiding difficult conversations. But eventually they had that conversation. Eventually they discussed the finances of it, how things would change between them, how their free time would disappear. And she had agreed with his fears, but supplemented them with her hopes, the sense of wonder at a new life, the new bond that she hoped grow from their shared sacrifice toward another. That had been a hard conversation. And yet they had emerged from that and moved forward, and they had had two children. Raising children had been both much more difficult than some of his worst fears, and yet also more rewarding than some of his most optimistic hopes. They had gone through it. They were ten years in. And now this. Now this.

He went into the door. The house was empty. He realized he was home unusually early. And she was perhaps still picking up the kids from school. He made coffee, then decided against coffee, then poured himself a glass of wine, sipped wine, then decided against wine. He opened his laptop half expecting to check work email, then realized he no longer had any work email. He had been laid off. He had nothing to do. An ocean of time crashed in on him, and he had no idea what to do with it.

Just then he heard Melinda drive up. Charlotte and Sabrina sprang from the car, screaming at each other:

“Mom, said you had to share it!” Sabrina was only 6 yet her lungs were strong enough that the entire neighborhood could hear her. “Mom said you had to share it!”

But Charlotte did not feel like sharing. She ran inside, hiding whatever it was.

Melinda came into the house and kissed him, half turned away, sensed a tension with him and turned back

“Are you alright? she asked. “You are home early. “