Dani runs her hand against the grain of
the old dining room table she inherited from her grandmother, a table
that has shrunk progressively every year as she and Cecil removed
leaves and pushed the ends together. Years ago, it had been the
opposite: As the children were born they'd wrestled the old table
open, each of them tugging at either side until there was a gap
sufficient to accommodate first one leaf, then two, then, finally,
Dani sighs deeply. Cecil doesn't appear
to notice: He's reading the newspaper, breathing heavily through his
mouth, his elbows holding down the corners of the paper so that the
fan blowing hot air behind him doesn't rustle the pages. Cecil's
elbows perpetually hold two triangles of smudged ink. Yesterday, the
number twenty-seven was inked on Cecil's left elbow. All that day, as she
waxed a spotless floor and wiped down counters already clean, she
thought on that number. As she tried to assign meaning to a random
number stamped on her husband's elbow, she realized something. "I'm
bored, Cecil," she says now.
"This house is too quiet. And I'm
sick to death of reading the headlines off your elbows."
Cecil frowns and lifts his elbow to
examine it. "Don't get all fuzzled up, Dani. It's not good for
"I can't stand it. Sitting
here doing nothing at all. I need...I need kids in my life again."
Cecil folds the newspaper neatly then
roots in his back pocket and produces his handkerchief, neatly folded
and pressed. This he dips into his coffee before rubbing it against
his elbows one at a time.
"What's this about, Dani?"
"David called. Leesa wants her
parents to take the kids for both weeks."
"I thought we were splitting..."
"Leesa thinks that would be
traumatic for the kids to have to move midway through."
"Traumatic how?" Cecil
laughs. "We live twenty minutes apart."
"I don't know," Dani says.
"Traumatic is living with Leesa's parents for fourteen days."
"Why can't they just come here for
the entire time?"
Dani makes a face. "You know
Cecil nods. "I do." He
reaches across the table and takes his wife's hands. "Maybe it's
time for an adventure."
"Let's go on a cruise. Then, if we
like it, we'll sell this old house and buy ourselves a little boat.
We'll travel the world, Dani."
She laughs. "I've never seen you
this excited, Cecil."
"I've wanted to do this for a long
"Let Leesa's parents have the kids
as long as they want."
"I don't know, Cecil."
"Think on it, Dani. We'll be the
cool grandparents. The ones
who live on a boat."
ponders this for a moment. "I wouldn't even know how to get
already bought tickets. Again he reaches into a back pocket,
producing this time an envelope. We leave on the twenty-seventh."
smiles and rubs her hand across the grain of the table once more.
Kelly Garriott Waite on Google+
For the Scriptic.org prompt this week, I gave Michael this prompt: "What would you give up." The prompt I received was "She felt disappointed that she had not been chosen.”
Michael: What would you give up?
Labels: flash fiction, scriptic.org