28 November 2011

Arthur and Edith

This is the beginnings of a short story I'm working on.  

They had but one last remaining night together and they spent it sleeping.  Arthur always snored so Edith wore her earplugs as usual.  Rolling the bright orange foam between thumb and forefinger, the last pair in the box.  Fitting really for someone who hated waste.  Their dentures were already soaking in fizzy Polident though Arthur didn’t know why they bothered.  That was Edith, following the same routine for fifty years and if he skipped a step, like wearing the stripped pajamas on the night he was supposed to wear the blue plaid, she would get upset.  There was that one night when Arthur had stayed late at the office, mostly because it was meatloaf night not because of any real work he had to do.  Edith nearly divorced him, not because she thought he might have fooled around with his secretary but because he wasn’t home at 5:45pm to wash his hands by 5:55pm and eat dinner at 6:00pm.  
That’s why he had agreed to this, they were going to break the routine.  Life wasn’t going to continue along the predictable schedule that it had for half a century, life wasn’t going to continue at all.  Edith had initiated this.  She first brought up the idea a few days after he came home from the doctor with the diagnosis.  He had been late then too.  The first time they hadn’t eaten dinner at 6:00pm in over ten years.  Edith was mad when he walked in the door at 6:06 but after he told her they just sat staring at the kitchen table.  It had the kind of veneer that is made to look like wood grain.  He had been so proud when they first bought it, that they were able to afford such a nice piece of furniture.  Now it was peeling with age.  He didn’t remember eating dinner at all that night, just finally going to bed.
Arthur blinked.  The tears that had welled up now spilled down his cheek and into his ear as he stared at the ceiling.  “Edith,” his voice cracked as he whispered.  Nothing.  “Edith,” he tried again.  He turned his head to look at his wife.  The florescent orange circle in her left ear gleamed at him in the darkness.  When had they gotten so old?
Tomorrow.  They were doing it tomorrow.

(to be continued)

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