Thursday, June 16, 2011

Apology Accepted

He looked out the kitchen window and saw her hanging washing on the line. The breeze tugged at the towels and shirts, and the line danced as it fought to hold them back. The breeze pulled her skirt up around her legs and made her hair a long, blonde banner. She was so beautiful; but, so stubborn. He sipped the cold water in his glass, then sighed. He put down the glass, and went out to her.

“Hello,” he said as he approached. She didn't react, except that she may have flinched, slightly. She kept hanging up the clothes.

He reached into the basket, took out a towel and put it on the line. He took one of his high-vis work-shirts from the basket. He started to peg the collar to the line.

“Upside down,” she said, startling him. He turned toward her. She stood, her hands on her hips, looking at him.

“Sorry?” he said.

“You hang shirts upside down,” she said, pointing to two, already on the line.

“Oh,” he said. He took off the peg and hung the shirt the other way around, checking his work against the two templates. He glanced at her. She hadn't moved. Her hair was flicking around her face. He saw the curve of her body under her clothes and the trace of a smile on her face. Maybe a smile, anyway.

“Why don't you go upstairs?” he said. “I'll finish this off.”

She didn't move as he awkwardly hung a bra beside the shirt.

“Go on,” he said. “Put you feet up. I'll be up in a few minutes.” He leaned over and, holding the back of her head with both hands, kissed her forehead. The smell and feel of her hair reminded him of better times. He fished a lone sock from the basket and hung it beside the bra.

She stepped toward him and kissed him on the cheek. “Come find me inside,” she said softly. Her words were almost stolen by the breeze. It seemed right then that her eyes were shining wet. He said nothing. She turned and walked toward the stairs. He watched her as she walked, until she was in the house.

He smiled as he reached into the basket for a pair of shorts. He kept smiling as he felt the wind jostling around him as he hung the rest of the washing. A line, a quote from sometime in the past, kept echoing through his head. “The wind bloweth where it listeth.” Must be Shakespeare, he thought.

He noticed there were only two pegs left when he was finished. He put the two pegs in his pocket and walked towards the stairs, carrying the empty washing basket over his shoulder, thinking again of happier times. As the screen-door flapped and slammed behind him, he decided those times were now.

This story, like almost everything I post lately, was first published in Shift Miner Magazine. Incidentally, it was first not published in one or two other publications. I think I learned to love this piece more than it deserved. I hope you get something from it.


Sonia Lal said...

guess he is getting along with his wife again, huh?

Bernard S. Jansen said...

@Sonia: It probably didn't come out as subtley as I hoped (and thought); but, yes.

Coral said...

This is a very sweet story. Thank you for posting. I needed a smile this evening. :)

John Wiswell said...

More than prior improvements with his wife, I like that he's got the spur to do more at the end of the story. And there's nothing wrong with re-posting published material, Bernard. It got me through two weeks ago!

Dominic said...

You definitely encapsulated what flash fiction means to me; a moment that is able to open up much of what happened before and what might happen in the future without having to outline the obvious. Nice work.

Sulci Collective said...

this is so very rich. Words said and not said. The action of lamely trying to help with a mate's chore by way of trying to change the current emotional lie of the land. One could almost see the water droplets sluicing off the shirts as an indication of the pent up and released emotional flow. Excellent.

I do wonder what those two unused pegs are going to be used for though :-0

Marc Nash

mazzz in Leeds said...

I think it's subtle enough - the title of the story tells us where it's going.

I too like the determination at the end

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