Absence


She let herself in, shedding the remnants of her workday as she walked through the apartment: purse, scarf, the thin sheaf of paper they called a newspaper.  She missed curling up on the couch with the Times.

"Hello, Lou.” David called from the living room. 

She watched him in the glow of the television screen.  “How long has the power been on?”

“Ten minutes.  Why didn’t you ring?”


She shrugged. 

He returned to the television.

She viewed her husband as just another decoration: occasionally dusted but otherwise set upon the shelf to be looked at every so often.  She supposed he viewed her in the same way.  “David?”

He looked up.  Was that hope she saw on his face?  “Yes?” 

“Nothing.”  She shook her head.  “What would you like for dinner?”

“Whatever you’d like.  I’ll phone it in when you decide.”

She nodded and continued down the hall towards their bedroom.  David had made up the bed after she’d left for work.  Now, she tidied the bathroom.  Every day, they tiptoed around each other carefully this way, making certain the little considerations and niceties were still observed: David picked up his laundry.  She put away her makeup.  It ought to have worked.  But locked into this marriage, they lived a life full of absence.  There was no love.  There were no dreams.

She hadn’t meant for it to be this way.  Thrown together in these unusual circumstances, she figured love would grow.

Since the Disintegration, the government had begun arranging marriages, analyzing compatibility worksheets and assigning spouses, not based upon interest but on their ability to produce the next generation.  As the leader of Department 24, she was responsible for thousands of unhappy marriages.

The government wasn’t interested in happiness.

She was.  For herself anyway.

The lights went out.  She tripped in the darkness.  She fell; cried out.

“Lou?”  David appeared with his flashlight.  “You frightened me.”

“I’m sorry.”

He took her in an awkward embrace.

It was all she could hope for.

 This was written in response to this week's Trifecta Writing Challenge.  The word was absence.


Labels:

Writing in the Margins, Bursting at the Seams: Absence

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Absence


She let herself in, shedding the remnants of her workday as she walked through the apartment: purse, scarf, the thin sheaf of paper they called a newspaper.  She missed curling up on the couch with the Times.

"Hello, Lou.” David called from the living room. 

She watched him in the glow of the television screen.  “How long has the power been on?”

“Ten minutes.  Why didn’t you ring?”


She shrugged. 

He returned to the television.

She viewed her husband as just another decoration: occasionally dusted but otherwise set upon the shelf to be looked at every so often.  She supposed he viewed her in the same way.  “David?”

He looked up.  Was that hope she saw on his face?  “Yes?” 

“Nothing.”  She shook her head.  “What would you like for dinner?”

“Whatever you’d like.  I’ll phone it in when you decide.”

She nodded and continued down the hall towards their bedroom.  David had made up the bed after she’d left for work.  Now, she tidied the bathroom.  Every day, they tiptoed around each other carefully this way, making certain the little considerations and niceties were still observed: David picked up his laundry.  She put away her makeup.  It ought to have worked.  But locked into this marriage, they lived a life full of absence.  There was no love.  There were no dreams.

She hadn’t meant for it to be this way.  Thrown together in these unusual circumstances, she figured love would grow.

Since the Disintegration, the government had begun arranging marriages, analyzing compatibility worksheets and assigning spouses, not based upon interest but on their ability to produce the next generation.  As the leader of Department 24, she was responsible for thousands of unhappy marriages.

The government wasn’t interested in happiness.

She was.  For herself anyway.

The lights went out.  She tripped in the darkness.  She fell; cried out.

“Lou?”  David appeared with his flashlight.  “You frightened me.”

“I’m sorry.”

He took her in an awkward embrace.

It was all she could hope for.

 This was written in response to this week's Trifecta Writing Challenge.  The word was absence.


Labels:

18 Comments:

At September 4, 2012 at 12:24 PM , Anonymous Annabelle said...

It's funny how dystopian this is with no more to suggest that than the word "disintegration" and the thought of thousands of loveless marriages. Bleak even though they clearly have the creature comforts.

 
At September 4, 2012 at 1:58 PM , Anonymous Lumdog said...

Very cool story. Starts out as your typical bored to tears couple and then we are witnessing the new world order. Nice job!

 
At September 4, 2012 at 2:00 PM , Anonymous kgwaite said...

Lumdog (unregistered) wrote:

Very cool story. Starts out as your typical bored to tears couple and then we are witnessing the new world order. Nice job!

 
At September 4, 2012 at 2:19 PM , Anonymous Carrie said...

What a dreadful life! And truthfully real for some poor couples!

 
At September 4, 2012 at 2:20 PM , Anonymous Annette Mickelson said...

This was a fascinating story -- and it leaves the window open with a touch of hope at the end. Very nice.

 
At September 4, 2012 at 2:22 PM , Anonymous Jessie Powell said...

I just love the world you've created here, and I especially love the way you got the absence in there.

 
At September 4, 2012 at 5:43 PM , Anonymous deanaburson said...

ohhh. I like this. I would love to read more.

 
At September 4, 2012 at 8:06 PM , Anonymous JannaTWrites said...

I love how you took this from ordinary stale marriage to a completely different world. Very cool!

 
At September 4, 2012 at 11:34 PM , Anonymous Steve Lavigne said...

interesting. you create a nice tension that makes me want to read more

 
At September 5, 2012 at 9:03 AM , Anonymous Linda Vernon said...

The details you picked to tell your story were perfect. And I love the twist it took. The premise is fantastic! Nice! :D

 
At September 5, 2012 at 11:48 AM , Anonymous Ruby Manchanda said...

The fragile relation has been nicely carved.

 
At September 5, 2012 at 7:13 PM , Anonymous Renada Styles said...

I feel this could easily grow into a good story. But, as itself, it was very well done.
And such a sad thing. The absence of love is perhaps one of the worst.

 
At September 5, 2012 at 10:08 PM , Anonymous Christine said...

Beautiful pacing here - I love how you took your time to fill us in (well, as much as one could expect in 333 words or less). I would *really* like to read more.

 
At September 6, 2012 at 1:20 PM , Anonymous Max said...

I like the twist - so now but so future...

 
At September 6, 2012 at 3:24 PM , Anonymous Triefctawritingchallenge said...

Annabelle hit the nail on the head with the word dystopian to describe this piece. It actually reminds of one of my favorite films, Brazil. I love that those bits are subtle, so that it's still relatable to current life.
Thanks for linking up. We hope to see you back soon.

 
At September 6, 2012 at 3:55 PM , Anonymous Imelda said...

Oh, this is deliciously poignant. Your description of the emptiness is so beautifully and delicately rendered. I especially like this line: She viewed her husband as just another decoration: occasionally dusted but otherwise set upon the shelf to be looked at every so often.

I am rooting for them.

 
At September 6, 2012 at 7:15 PM , Anonymous Tessa said...

Arranged marriages, how sad. Great story!

 
At September 8, 2012 at 5:31 AM , Anonymous Victoria KP said...

Really well done. I felt so much of their awkwardness, being trapped and trying to make the best of it.

 

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