hate the way you rattle your paper about." Cheryl frowns.
glances at her and grins as he shakes the newspaper violently.
you feeling OK, Cheryl?" He takes a sip of coffee, long and
hate the way you slurp your coffee. Where is your dignity?"
Cheryl says. "Where is your refinement?"
sets down his mug. "If I recall, dear, beneath that fancy dress,
your under-drawers aren't all that refined."
feels herself blanch.
out by half a mile; elastic gone ten years now. Dingy old things,"
Eye," she hisses. "Always seeing everyone else's faults and
not your own."
this about my hair, Cheryl?"
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."
grow grass on dead soil." Frank grins. "The barber told
puts up a hand. "I know. I know."
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."
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.
clears her throat pointedly and breaks a piece from her muffin,
sticks it daintily in her mouth.
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
am not dishonest." Cheryl slaps a hand on the table.
rules you insist upon...these refinements. Do they make you
more human or less?"
for God's sake, why do you have to turn everything into a
more we refine ourselves, the more we distance ourselves from
ourselves; from our humanity. Deep down, we're animals."
devolved. We work against nature."
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.
is truth, Cheryl?"
Jesus. Keep your stupid hair, Frank. It's perfect. It's beautiful."
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
too early for this, Frank."
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.
just stopped caring," Cheryl says. "Not that you're off
he shrugs. "Perhaps balding is an asset."
can that be an asset?"
invisible to others, I can finally pursue myself. My world. My
is your truth, Frank?"
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."
Cheryl eyes herself in the toaster. "Do you think I need another
frowns and rises. "I'm going out for a drive."
hears the muted sounds of his car door closing. She hears the engine
starting. "All exits are final," she tells his empty chair.
dog approaches Frank's empty chair, in search of crumbs, his choke
chain rattling about his neck.
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: Fiction, flash fiction, scriptic.org, writing prompts