Lunch for my Wife

Prompt from Writer’s Digest :
When a Man takes lunch to his wife’s office, he’s told that she hasn’t worked there in weeks.

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“Ta da! Finished!”  said James out loud, but only the cat was there to hear him and you know what they say about cats. True to type, Pickles continued to clean himself. “Thanks Pickles” muttered James, “I really needed to see your nether regions right now!”

Standing up and stretching, James shuffled across the kitchen in his slippers and clicked the kettle on. Whilst waiting, he rummaged through cupboards and the fridge. Minutes later, he’d cut some fresh bread, had cheese and ham out of the fridge, some of Sarah’s homemade pickle from the larder and he’d assembled a great doorstep of a sandwich. Later, after finishing his excellent sandwich and whilst sipping his tea, he remembered that for weeks now Sarah had come home ravenous. When he’d raised his eyebrows and looked accusingly at her waistline she’d gone: “No, no, no … It’s just been crazy busy at work and I’ve not had time.”

Looking at the clock, James realised he could make Sarah a sandwich and take it to her office. It might help with the whole him being a thoughtless, self-absorbed bastard thing which they’d been arguing about recently. Twenty minutes later, he walked into Reception. Julie was on the phone, so James waved to her and waited. “James!” said Julie, looking at him a tad oddly, “what can I do for you?” “I don’t need to see Sarah, I know she’s busy and I don’t want to disturb her. But do you think you could let her know that I’ve dropped this off for her” James held out tupperware. Julie was flushed a shade of red and couldn’t meet his eyes: “erm, hold on …” Picking up her phone again, she punched a button and murmured: “Marion, James is in reception to drop something off for Sarah. Could you come and see him please?” Trying not to sound alarmed, James asked “What’s up?” “Please take a seat in the side office James and wait for Marion” was all Julie managed to get out, still unable to meet his eyes.

“James, I’m sorry, this is a bit awkward,” started Marion “but Sarah’s not here. She left us weeks ago.” “W-w-what?” James stuttered “where is she?” “Well, she’s gone to work for our major client, he wants her to set up a new branch for him in LA. I thought you knew.” James jumped up and punched the wall. Unfortunately it didn’t go quite how he’d imagined and he ended up looking like a prize idiot when Marion had to take him to A&E for an x-ray.

When Sarah came in that evening, he was sat at his desk as usual. Well, except for the strapping on his hand that is. He’d left the box containing her sandwich beside the kettle and after saying “hi darling” he heard her “oooo” of pleasure on coming across it. Soon she was chomping away and asking him “how’d you get on today? Any nearer finishing?” “I finished this morning” he replied coldly holding up his hand, “luckily before my enforced visit to A&E”. Sarah rushed across “what happened babe, are you OK?” but James pushed her away with his left hand and asked, his voice dripping with sarcasm: “got any news you might need to tell me?”

Sarah flushed, even redder than Julie had that morning “Oh …” She sat down beside him and started to cry. Only this time James didn’t do what he usually did, this time he walked out of the room, calling over his shoulder “come and talk to me when you’ve finished that.” Sarah followed him into the sitting room, still sniffing until he said: “I mean it, I’m not interested in your tears. You’ve been lying to me for bloody weeks and now you’ve made a fool out of me in front of your entire office.”

Sarah ran to the bedroom and cried pitifully, but James came nowhere near her. She began to realise that this was going to be bloody. She blew her nose and went back into the living room and sat down opposite him. He ignored her and went on watching the news. Knowing better than to interrupt, she waited until the news finished and he switched off the TV, saying: “so …?”

“It’s an amazing opportunity James, but I knew you wouldn’t want to leave and go to LA. So … I thought I’d go alone and you could visit me.” “Right, so you just decided and assumed that I’d follow along like some little obedient lap dog?” “No James, it’s not like that. You can be so bloody difficult when you want to be and I knew you’d find a way of making sure I didn’t accept the offer and … well, I wanted to, it’s the best chance I’m going to get … and the seniority means I could get away with taking a career break when I’ve done this.” “Oh not again” groaned James, “we agreed, no children!” “No James, you decided on no children” said Sarah, “and you just assumed that I’d agreed.” “I’m too selfish to be a father, Sarah” James shouted back “and I’m a writer and I won’t have anything get in the way of that. Surely I made that clear when we first met. What on earth made you think I was going to change my mind on the subject?” Sarah whispered her reply: “I just hoped once you knew how much it meant to me …”

A month later James walked out of his publishers with a contract in his hand. He liked the sound of that – his publishers. Smiling, he decided to call Sarah in LA later with the news. The courier met him at the frontdoor with a big envelope. Signing, he didn’t open it till he’d made tea. Visibly recoiling, he read that Sarah was suing him for divorce. Rubbing his eyes, he read it again. Sarah’s covering note explained she’d used her signing bonus to clear what remained of the mortgage on their house and was offering to split the proceeds of the sale 50-50. She also asked him to engage an estate agent he could work with, as its sale would likely take place before she returned. Her closing words were “I’m sorry, I should’ve heard you and respected your wishes.”

“Aargh no!” groaned James before pulling his mobile from his pocket. Hearing Sarah’s sleepy voice grumbling: “it’s the middle of the bloody night James”, he interrupted “but I’ve got a publishing contract, now we can have a baby!”

 

© 2016 Debra Carey

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#SecondThoughts – Goodbye

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Our first guest post is, fittingly, a riff from one of Debs’ posts.  This drabble comes courtesy of Alan Jesson (who also contributed to a #flashfiction writing prompt).  Alan’s home site is Perigrinations and Pauses, which is part autobiography, part travalogue and mostly “more or less relevant ramblings”.  I’ll stop there, lest the introduction become longer than the story!

~*~*~*~

A Drabble Goodbye

It had been quite a whirlwind relationship.
They had started off slowly with a quiet introduction, and she had very efficiently taken charge of his diary. And as he got to know her better, and to trust her more, so she came more and more into his life.

She remembered the informal things: the need to get some apples or a haircut or more milk. She organised his music: that was nice.

But now she had gone too far. She had automatically ordered a load of useless stuff from the internet. He said, sadly, “Goodbye Cortana” and hit the key.

© 2017 Alan F. Jesson

Feag

hooded-man

The air shimmered. Puck stepped from between a dimensional fold, onto a hilltop, from where he could see the scene of devastation. He reached into the jacket of his sleek Italian suit, pulling out a sleek Korean ‘phone. The 20th and 21st centuries had been good to Puck, but it had also changed him immeasurably. He’d been descending into a fugue of ennui for decades, but the rise of the Law and of lawyers in particular had given him strange ideas. His proverbial sense of humour had led him in new directions. There was a continual buzz from dabbling with the corporate world. But he still reported to one person. He hit speed-dial.

“My lord? It’s worse than we thought. The forest is ablaze for seven leagues in every direction. The wind is rising, spreading the flames to the north. I have Cobweb organising weather-workers to try and control things with rain, but the air is so dry at this time of year…hold, my lord, Peaseblossom comes to report. What news, Peas-blossom? You’re on speakerphone with the Captain of our band”

“How now, Robin Goodfellow. Our people are sore afflicted”. Peas-blossom, as ever was along for the ride: she hadn’t really got to grips with modern life, but was a natural follower. “ The fire is but the half of it, some malady afflicts the woodland sprites and they are unable to save themselves by innate gift, ‘stead fleeing afoot through tangled wood and burning copse. Those that reach the borders of the conflagration are marred by burns from flame, which ought not be possible, but also by some other ailment”.

A deep, sonorous voice, reminiscent of a belling stag, emerged from the ‘phone: “Do what you must. Spare no expense. Send for Edgar the Crimson”, and was gone, leaving a hollow silence.Peas-blossom looked at the phone in distaste. “Edgar? But he’s weird!”
But Puck was already looking up the number. “How quickly can you put a girdle around…” but before he could finish, there was a faint waft of sulfur and mine-miasma and a cloaked and hooded figure stood in front of him.

“Tell me what happened”. The voice creaked like a ship in a storm.
“As far as we can tell a star fell not thirty minutes ago, setting the forest ablaze. But none of the woodland spirits have been able to use magic to save themselves”.
“Not a star, a meteorite, a space-stone. No doubt it is thunderbolt-iron”.
“Thunderbolt-iron!” squeaked Peas-blossom.
“Then the forest and the woodland-fae are doomed”. Puck shook his head sadly.

“Not so. You air-sprites think us beneath you, just because we dig and delve and work. But our magic leaves us immune to the effects of the iron which so discomforts you. The iron I remove is mine, and I will claim the rights of that ground below the area where the stone landed. Those are my terms”. And without waiting, the kobold walked off into the flames.

 

© 2017 David Jesson

Walking Distance

New normal

Since moving to a small town, Clara found she left the car at home more and more. So long as it wasn’t absolutely tipping it down with rain, she preferred to get outdoors, to stretch her legs, get a bit of fresh air and enjoy the potential for the odd exchange with her neighbours. Sometimes she’d just pick up milk, or something from the bakery to accompany her coffee when she was back home. More often, it was an excuse to take her notebook down to the river, or to the coffee shop, and people watch. It was surprising how often something would catch her eye and she’d end up scribbling in that notebook. It was her ideas book, she had many, which she filled with observed exchanges or with descriptions of strangers, all to be mined for a story some time in the future.

But she hadn’t written anything for a little while. Not since the day when they’d discovered that lump. Life had been quite the roller coaster since then. Her head had been full of ‘what ifs’ and ‘what if I don’t …’ and she’d been left dog tired, an exhaustion she’d never experienced the like of before. Normally independent, prickly so, she was struggling to accept help, let alone ask for it, and there was no getting away from the fact that she needed it. Her sister stayed for a couple of weeks which was pretty much as long as they could stand each other’s company at close quarters. But she’d arranged for a housekeeper – someone competent but quiet, kind not not a fusser – making sure that there was food a-plenty, a clean home and clean clothes. It meant I could get on with the business of getting better, without putting energy into the mundane.

I’d missed walking terribly but, the first day I went out, I needed rescuing. I’d barely walked around the corner but I couldn’t take another step. I’d ended up collapsed onto someone’s garden wall. I remember the look she gave me, like I was some kind of nutter, when I asked her to drive me back home. After that, my Mrs Miggins insisted she walk with me. What a sight we must’ve made, me shuffling along at the pace of an old man with Mrs Miggins behind me carrying a bright blue chair. I was grateful for that chair though, every single day. And I was grateful for the fuss-free way that Mrs Miggins would leave me sitting on my bright blue chair, bring her car to collect me – and my trusty bright blue chair – to take us home. As my walks got longer, I realised that Mrs Miggins wasn’t carrying my bright blue chair anymore. When I asked the question, she pointed out that there were chairs dotted around and about, all along the route to my favourite coffee shop.

By the summer, I was able to make it to the coffee shop easily. Not long afterwards, Mrs Miggins stopped walking with me. By not being pig-headed, I’d come to recognise what my new normal walking distance was now, and I took a simple pleasure in it. Yes I had goals to increase that walking distance, but now it wasn’t a race. I spent more time on my daily walk, talking to those kind people who are my neighbours. The very neighbours who used to be strangers who – on noticing me and Mrs Miggins with my bright blue chair – had placed a chair outside their homes for me to take a rest. Now I didn’t need them, they were still there, being used by the elderly, people loaded down with shopping, young mothers carrying a child, or – like me, someone who looked fine, but wasn’t.

©Debra Carey, 2017

A walk in the park

The park was tranquil, silenced by the mist that wreathed the trees and draped itself across the grass, diminished but not banished by the late morning sun.  I had agreed to meet my friend, Sam here – it was a conveniently equidistant point from which we could sally forth in search of coffee.  I sat on a bench and pulled out my book – a proper book today, not the usual Kindle, with its hundreds of books in one neat package.  No, today I was working through a book club read, and I might possibly add marginalia, or at the very least slips of paper at appropriate points.  Sam would not be long, but I would be able to get through a few pages, and I had long ago realised that this was an essential tactic for a book club read, to ensure that I was not desperately reading the last chapters on the day itself.

I was quickly engrossed – this was a book more to my taste than our last choice – and it was not until a shadow fell across the book that I realised that there was anyone else close-by.

“Would you mind if I joined you on this bench?  My leg is playing me up.”

I murmered assent to the man before me who had spoken in the sort of plummy tones that are usually reserved for the upper-middle classes in worthy period dramas.  This, the rather stiff bearing and the fastidiously neat attire instantly made me think ‘military’.  The suit of grey tweed with a flamboyant blue-spotted handkerchief did nothing to dispel the notion, although I did pause on a definite diagnosis because of the tie – I knew nothing of what regimental colours should look like, but this was clearly not such neck-wear.

“Thank you so much. An old injury you know.  I should no better than to come out in this fog, but I hate to miss a day.”

“Miss a day?”

“Oh yes.  I usually get in a five-mile walk, ten if there’s nothing better to do.”

I looked at the man sideways; he must have been over eighty, but looked spry.  He noticed me looking and gave a wry chuckle.

“You’re probably thinking I look like an old relic – and so I am.  Ninety next week you know, but I tell you, a good brisk walk every day will do wonders for you.”

“You certainly look extremely well on it – congratulations for next week.”

“Why, thank you. I wasn’t trying to solicit good will, you know.”

I assured him that nothing was further from my mind.  We chatted about this and that for bit, and I mentioned that the park was within walking distance of my house.

“Oh, so quite close then?  I find that walking distance is a lot more local than it used to be.  I notice it personally, because I would think nothing of walking several miles to run an errand when I was a boy, and even ten or so miles was a bit of a jaunt.  These days ten feels like a route march.  Even five can be tricky now and again.  But I’m still thankful for my health.  There’s a chap I see now and again, probably about your age, but it’s as much as he can do to waddle from the bus stop to the arcade of shops – his view of walking distance is very narrow.  I don’t suppose he’ll make old bones.  It’s a different world now.  Shank’s pony is in danger of going extinct it seems.”

I remembered my manners, and offered to ring someone to come and pick him up, he pretended to be offended, but I could see a twinkle in his eye.

“Oh no! No thank you.  I’ll seize up if I sit here much longer.  Thank you for sharing the bench with me, but my leg is much better now – and I live in walking distance.  Good bye!”

He pulled himself up, tipped his hat and a wink to me, and off he went, barely using his walking stick and certainly not shuffling.  Thoughtfully, I put my book away.

©David Jesson, 2017

#FF Prompt: Walking Distance

A nice general prompt for February, and to keep things relaxed, there’s no hard and fast limit on this, but let’s try to keep it under 1000 words, hmmm?  So if you fancy a drabble (or a double), the full 1000, or something in between, let your fingers do the walking…

Oh, and bonus points if you can come up with a suitable, alliterative hashtag, based on February, or a variation thereof.

Deadline for submission is 2pm on Friday, 10th February 2017.

A reminder to new readers/writers, please post on your own site and add a link in the comments section below.  If you don’t have your own blog or similar outlet, do send us your story via the contact form on the About page and we’ll post for you, with an appropriate by-line.  Two caveats if you want to go down this route: if you want to retain the copyright, then you will need to state this, and this is a family show, so we reserve the right not to post anything that strays into NSFW or offends against ‘common decency’.