Saturday, June 4, 2011

Longing

Today's post is in response to the Red Dress Club writing prompt "What do you want?"  600 words to say what your character wants.  At 654 words, I think this is the closest I've ever come to being within the word limit.  YUGE victory for me.

Longing
By Kelley Williams

The pearls were ugly.  At least that’s what she told herself looking at them through the display window.

How many times had she walked this street in the last four years?  One hundred?  Two hundred?  She’d never noticed Jacob’s Jewelers.  Until today.  Until the pearls in the window.

Subconsciously, her hand went to her throat and her gut twisted as she thought of her grandmother’s pearls.  It was the same painful twist she’d felt when she’d handed them over to the Pawn dealer for a meager hundred dollars.  She’d been unable to speak around the lump in her throat to insist they were worth more.

She brought her hand to the window.  She moved her fingers back and forth, imagining the pearls’ cool smooth surface beneath her callused fingers, the bump, bump, bump of running the strand through her hands.

A woman and child approached, bodies hunched, bracing against the bitter wind.  The woman looked at her as they passed.  She yanked her hand away and shoved it in her coat pocket, one of many items recently left with a note on their doorstep

Maria looked up and down the nearly deserted downtown street.  Not many were brave enough to face the cold, but she and her husband didn’t have a choice.  No matter the weather, at the end of every month they made the ten minute trip into town to Boyd’s Pharmacy.

She turned her head back to the window and wondered who was wearing her grandmother’s pearls now.  Had they been given to a wife, a mother, a daughter?  Did they adorn a neck stretched and spotted with age?  The lights in the store went off and a single tear – she only ever allowed herself one – slid down her cheek.

She brushed it away when she heard the clank of the bells against the glass door of Boyd’s.  Joe raised his hand not higher than his waist, offering a weak goodbye to Henry, the pharmacist.

Joe’s gait was slow, the limp becoming more pronounced.  His gaunt face was twisted in a grimace, but his eyes – oh those eyes – still sparkled. 

She didn’t walk toward him, offer a hand to help.  He may not be able to toss her over his shoulder and carry her up the stairs any more, but he still had his pride.

Finally he reached her.  “Ready?”

She answered by placing her hand in his, and they headed to their car.  Once home, she settled Joe in the recliner and went to the kitchen to prepare dinner.

She opened the pantry door and cursed under her breath when all she saw was a box of crackers and a jar of sauce. 

Wearily she grabbed her keys and purse from the counter and called out, “I’ll be back in a minute, Joe.”
She returned thirty minutes later and they ate in silence, the comfortable quiet that exists between two people who didn’t need words to communicate.  When they were finished she helped him from the La-Z-Boy and into the bed.  Selfishly, she no longer tried to convince him to stay in the recliner, the place he slept most comfortably.  She didn’t know how many more nights they’d have where she’d be able to reach out and feel him next to her.

Once he was settled, remote in hand, she returned to the living room to collect their dinner dishes.

“Hey honey.  Come look at this.”  His feeble voice was barely audible over the sound from the tv.

She set the dishes on the counter and returned to the bedroom to find Joe watching the eleven o’clock news.

“Someone robbed the jewelry store by Boyd’s.  Can you believe that?  Some people have no moral code, do they?”

“No they don’t,” Maria muttered, turning from the room so Joe wouldn’t see her bring her hand to her throat, her fingers going bump, bump, bump over the strand of pearls hidden beneath her turtle neck.
 

5 comments:

  1. Nice! I love the way you wrap this up. I really want to know why here fingers are calloused.

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  2. That was a great story. Loved the twist at the end. You have "shown" his declining health and the strength of their marriage. This was very moving.


    .......dhole

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  3. I love your take on this, especially the ending. I'm now intrigued by this character - how did Joe come to be the way he is? Why did she have to pawn her grandmother's pearls?

    I'm new to your blog so I might have missed out earlier installments of this story :)

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  4. I'm with Alison... not sure if there is a beginning to this story, but either way, I still REALLY liked this. I don't need there to be a beginning. I felt, in such a short span, I learned all I needed to know about both characters.

    Loved the ending. I could truly feel pearls around my neck. Such a great job!

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