All Exits Are Final


"I hate the way you rattle your paper about." Cheryl frowns.

Frank glances at her and grins as he shakes the newspaper violently.

"Stop that."

"Are you feeling OK, Cheryl?" He takes a sip of coffee, long and over-loud.

"I hate the way you slurp your coffee. Where is your dignity?" Cheryl says. "Where is your refinement?"

Frank sets down his mug. "If I recall, dear, beneath that fancy dress, your under-drawers aren't all that refined."


She feels herself blanch.

"Stretched out by half a mile; elastic gone ten years now. Dingy old things," he adds.

"Log Eye," she hisses. "Always seeing everyone else's faults and not your own."

"Is this about my hair, Cheryl?"

"Of course it's not about your stupid hair." She glances at his head, now bald and shiny and growing the tiniest bit of stubble, like newly-mown grass, only gray not green. "Why did you shave it all off? When I sent you to that new barber, I was thinking hair growth not..." She gestures. "Not this."

"Can't grow grass on dead soil." Frank grins. "The barber told me..."

She puts up a hand. "I know. I know."

"...Took one look at that bald spot you wanted fixed and said, 'Sorry Frank, but I think you're permanently off the market.'" Frank laughs. "It's liberating, actually."

"Being bald?" She watches him peel away the paper skin from a blueberry muffin and set it on his plate. As he eats, crumbs litter the table. He licks his index finger and presses the tip against each crumb before touching it to his mouth like a Communion wafer.

Cheryl clears her throat pointedly and breaks a piece from her muffin, sticks it daintily in her mouth.

"So, dear wife, it's OK to project an exterior of refinement but wear holey underwear, is that it? Which is worse? My slurping or your dishonesty?"

"I am not dishonest." Cheryl slaps a hand on the table.

"These rules you insist upon...these refinements. Do they make you more human or less?"

"Or for God's sake, why do you have to turn everything into a philosophical discussion?"

"The more we refine ourselves, the more we distance ourselves from ourselves; from our humanity. Deep down, we're animals."

"We're evolved."

"We're devolved. We work against nature."

"We improve it." She watches him, licking and pressing, licking and pressing, littering the tabletop with fingerprints of spit which she will scrub away and cover with lemon furniture polish.

"What is truth, Cheryl?"

"Oh, Jesus. Keep your stupid hair, Frank. It's perfect. It's beautiful."

"What is beauty?" He smiles and folds his paper. "Is beauty the truth, or is ugliness? We hide behind the rules of society. We cover ourselves from ourselves; hiding the truth from everyone, even those we love."

"It's too early for this, Frank."

"I'm ready to shed the rules, Cheryl. I'm ready to find my own truths. Not yours. Not the government's. Not the church's. Not the advertisers'. They're all looking for the same thing, Cheryl. They all want me to accept their truth. I want to find it for myself." His eyes are ablaze.

"You've just stopped caring," Cheryl says. "Not that you're off the market."

"Perhaps," he shrugs. "Perhaps balding is an asset."

"How can that be an asset?"

"Being invisible to others, I can finally pursue myself. My world. My truth."

"What is your truth, Frank?"

"I don't know," he says. "It'll take more than a day to figure that out. Perhaps it will occupy the rest of my life."

"Hmmm..." Cheryl eyes herself in the toaster. "Do you think I need another Botox?"

He frowns and rises. "I'm going out for a drive."

She hears the muted sounds of his car door closing. She hears the engine starting. "All exits are final," she tells his empty chair.

The dog approaches Frank's empty chair, in search of crumbs, his choke chain rattling about his neck.

~end~


For the Scriptic.org prompt exchange this week, Minzy at http://minolisw.wordpress.com gave me this prompt: Eyes shut wide. I took this from the movie Eyes Wide Shut: All Exits are Final. I also took this line, reportedly said by Alice in the film: "One night, or even one lifetime, cannot reveal the truth."

I gave Michael at http://MichaelWebb.us this prompt: Pick a four-syllable word you don't know out of the dictionary. Write a story around that word.

Labels: , , ,

Writing in the Margins, Bursting at the Seams: All Exits Are Final

Thursday, February 21, 2013

All Exits Are Final


"I hate the way you rattle your paper about." Cheryl frowns.

Frank glances at her and grins as he shakes the newspaper violently.

"Stop that."

"Are you feeling OK, Cheryl?" He takes a sip of coffee, long and over-loud.

"I hate the way you slurp your coffee. Where is your dignity?" Cheryl says. "Where is your refinement?"

Frank sets down his mug. "If I recall, dear, beneath that fancy dress, your under-drawers aren't all that refined."


She feels herself blanch.

"Stretched out by half a mile; elastic gone ten years now. Dingy old things," he adds.

"Log Eye," she hisses. "Always seeing everyone else's faults and not your own."

"Is this about my hair, Cheryl?"

"Of course it's not about your stupid hair." She glances at his head, now bald and shiny and growing the tiniest bit of stubble, like newly-mown grass, only gray not green. "Why did you shave it all off? When I sent you to that new barber, I was thinking hair growth not..." She gestures. "Not this."

"Can't grow grass on dead soil." Frank grins. "The barber told me..."

She puts up a hand. "I know. I know."

"...Took one look at that bald spot you wanted fixed and said, 'Sorry Frank, but I think you're permanently off the market.'" Frank laughs. "It's liberating, actually."

"Being bald?" She watches him peel away the paper skin from a blueberry muffin and set it on his plate. As he eats, crumbs litter the table. He licks his index finger and presses the tip against each crumb before touching it to his mouth like a Communion wafer.

Cheryl clears her throat pointedly and breaks a piece from her muffin, sticks it daintily in her mouth.

"So, dear wife, it's OK to project an exterior of refinement but wear holey underwear, is that it? Which is worse? My slurping or your dishonesty?"

"I am not dishonest." Cheryl slaps a hand on the table.

"These rules you insist upon...these refinements. Do they make you more human or less?"

"Or for God's sake, why do you have to turn everything into a philosophical discussion?"

"The more we refine ourselves, the more we distance ourselves from ourselves; from our humanity. Deep down, we're animals."

"We're evolved."

"We're devolved. We work against nature."

"We improve it." She watches him, licking and pressing, licking and pressing, littering the tabletop with fingerprints of spit which she will scrub away and cover with lemon furniture polish.

"What is truth, Cheryl?"

"Oh, Jesus. Keep your stupid hair, Frank. It's perfect. It's beautiful."

"What is beauty?" He smiles and folds his paper. "Is beauty the truth, or is ugliness? We hide behind the rules of society. We cover ourselves from ourselves; hiding the truth from everyone, even those we love."

"It's too early for this, Frank."

"I'm ready to shed the rules, Cheryl. I'm ready to find my own truths. Not yours. Not the government's. Not the church's. Not the advertisers'. They're all looking for the same thing, Cheryl. They all want me to accept their truth. I want to find it for myself." His eyes are ablaze.

"You've just stopped caring," Cheryl says. "Not that you're off the market."

"Perhaps," he shrugs. "Perhaps balding is an asset."

"How can that be an asset?"

"Being invisible to others, I can finally pursue myself. My world. My truth."

"What is your truth, Frank?"

"I don't know," he says. "It'll take more than a day to figure that out. Perhaps it will occupy the rest of my life."

"Hmmm..." Cheryl eyes herself in the toaster. "Do you think I need another Botox?"

He frowns and rises. "I'm going out for a drive."

She hears the muted sounds of his car door closing. She hears the engine starting. "All exits are final," she tells his empty chair.

The dog approaches Frank's empty chair, in search of crumbs, his choke chain rattling about his neck.

~end~


For the Scriptic.org prompt exchange this week, Minzy at http://minolisw.wordpress.com gave me this prompt: Eyes shut wide. I took this from the movie Eyes Wide Shut: All Exits are Final. I also took this line, reportedly said by Alice in the film: "One night, or even one lifetime, cannot reveal the truth."

I gave Michael at http://MichaelWebb.us this prompt: Pick a four-syllable word you don't know out of the dictionary. Write a story around that word.

Labels: , , ,

2 Comments:

At February 23, 2013 at 3:56 PM , Blogger Victoria KP said...

I love this banter between the two characters. It really makes you wonder if and when they ever had anything in common.

 
At February 23, 2013 at 6:41 PM , Blogger Bee said...

Wow, Cheryl needs to get a grip.

 

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