Rooftop View


Gloria Santos turns a page of her book and adjusts herself in the overstuffed chair--the only thing she got in the divorce settlement, and only because her husband had always hated the color. She tucks her feet beside her. She is pleased that, at fifty-eight, she is still able to accomplish this small feat. She attributes it to her lifelong practice of yoga.
Her telephone rings. She signs and picks up, marking her place in her book with an index finger. "Hello, Howard."
"How did you know it was me?"
"Who else would bother calling me on Christmas?" Or ever, for that matter.
"Marie wants to know if you've changed your mind. I can pick you up."
"I'm fine."
"What are you doing?"
"Talking to you, at present, but prior to that I was reading my book. Curled up in the inglenook." She smiles, delighting in her brother's spare vocabulary. "It's a nook. By the library fireplace." Just to clarify: The condo she purchased (cash, of course, she'd told Howard) six months ago has four thousand square feet and three fireplaces. "Did the children have a good haul?"
She doubts it. What with Marie's obsessive coupon-clipping and thrift-store scavenging, the brats probably wouldn't have had anything if it weren't for Gloria's generosity. She glances about the library as her brother prattles on: Five hundred eighty-two books, neatly divided into fiction and non-fiction, the fiction arranged by author.
"Are you lonely?" Howard once asked her.
"Not at all," she'd replied. "I have my books."
"The children appreciate the bear," Howard says.
"I'm glad," Gloria says. They ought to appreciate it: The damn thing set her back five hundred dollars.
"And the clothes. But Gloria, they're rather..."
"Rather what?"
"Well, I can't see Nathan going out play in a tie."
"It's a cravat, Howard."
"What are you having for dinner, Gloria?"
"Cocoa," she says, and because that doesn't sound like enough, she tacks on a further description: "White chocolate cocoa with artisan marshmallows."
"Huh," Howard says. Gloria is certain he's pretending not to be impressed.
"Had the marshmallows shipped from France."
"Doesn't sound too substantial."
She sighs. Marshmallows aren't intended to be substantial. "And cookies. Listen, Howard, really. I'm fine. Go back to your family." Your pretty, perfect family.
"Call me if you change your mind."
"I shall," she replies before setting the receiver down. She glances at her plate: Normally, she limits herself to two cookies, but today, she has set out three. Peanut butter blossoms, also gourmet: The cookie rolled in Turbinado sugar before a Hershey's kiss is planted neatly in the center. The sugar makes the cookie glisten, as if it's been glazed by snowflakes, and a gives it a sweet, surprising crunch.
She takes a cookie and bites into it. She stares out the window, over the rooftops of the houses below. She sighs and returns to her book. "I'm not lonely," she reminds herself.
She sips her cocoa and pretends not to notice the bitter aftertaste.



This was written for this week's Write at the Merge prompt.

Labels: ,

Writing in the Margins, Bursting at the Seams: Rooftop View

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Rooftop View


Gloria Santos turns a page of her book and adjusts herself in the overstuffed chair--the only thing she got in the divorce settlement, and only because her husband had always hated the color. She tucks her feet beside her. She is pleased that, at fifty-eight, she is still able to accomplish this small feat. She attributes it to her lifelong practice of yoga.
Her telephone rings. She signs and picks up, marking her place in her book with an index finger. "Hello, Howard."
"How did you know it was me?"
"Who else would bother calling me on Christmas?" Or ever, for that matter.
"Marie wants to know if you've changed your mind. I can pick you up."
"I'm fine."
"What are you doing?"
"Talking to you, at present, but prior to that I was reading my book. Curled up in the inglenook." She smiles, delighting in her brother's spare vocabulary. "It's a nook. By the library fireplace." Just to clarify: The condo she purchased (cash, of course, she'd told Howard) six months ago has four thousand square feet and three fireplaces. "Did the children have a good haul?"
She doubts it. What with Marie's obsessive coupon-clipping and thrift-store scavenging, the brats probably wouldn't have had anything if it weren't for Gloria's generosity. She glances about the library as her brother prattles on: Five hundred eighty-two books, neatly divided into fiction and non-fiction, the fiction arranged by author.
"Are you lonely?" Howard once asked her.
"Not at all," she'd replied. "I have my books."
"The children appreciate the bear," Howard says.
"I'm glad," Gloria says. They ought to appreciate it: The damn thing set her back five hundred dollars.
"And the clothes. But Gloria, they're rather..."
"Rather what?"
"Well, I can't see Nathan going out play in a tie."
"It's a cravat, Howard."
"What are you having for dinner, Gloria?"
"Cocoa," she says, and because that doesn't sound like enough, she tacks on a further description: "White chocolate cocoa with artisan marshmallows."
"Huh," Howard says. Gloria is certain he's pretending not to be impressed.
"Had the marshmallows shipped from France."
"Doesn't sound too substantial."
She sighs. Marshmallows aren't intended to be substantial. "And cookies. Listen, Howard, really. I'm fine. Go back to your family." Your pretty, perfect family.
"Call me if you change your mind."
"I shall," she replies before setting the receiver down. She glances at her plate: Normally, she limits herself to two cookies, but today, she has set out three. Peanut butter blossoms, also gourmet: The cookie rolled in Turbinado sugar before a Hershey's kiss is planted neatly in the center. The sugar makes the cookie glisten, as if it's been glazed by snowflakes, and a gives it a sweet, surprising crunch.
She takes a cookie and bites into it. She stares out the window, over the rooftops of the houses below. She sighs and returns to her book. "I'm not lonely," she reminds herself.
She sips her cocoa and pretends not to notice the bitter aftertaste.



This was written for this week's Write at the Merge prompt.

Labels: ,

15 Comments:

At December 18, 2013 at 12:43 PM , Blogger Jayne Martin said...

Your interplay between characters is always so real. How sad that this woman seems to have so much in material goods, yet is so spiritually impoverished.

 
At December 18, 2013 at 12:49 PM , Blogger Kelly Garriott Waite said...

Thank you, Jayne!

 
At December 18, 2013 at 1:51 PM , Blogger Valerie Boersma said...

So well done, Kelly! I've never been comfortable around a lot of fancy material wealth-strangely even as a kid I worried about all the "stuff" in the world and where it would end up. I know people who are like Gloria, and in spite of all they have, life in general seems to leave a bitter aftertaste. However...I wouldn't say no to a plate of those peanut butter blossoms...;)

Creative use of inglenook too!

 
At December 18, 2013 at 2:15 PM , Blogger Roxanne said...

I feel Howard's helplessness more than Gloria's loneliness in this piece. She's trying so hard to convince him, or herself.

 
At December 19, 2013 at 12:57 AM , Blogger kymm said...

I love Gloria.
You and chairs. ♥

 
At December 19, 2013 at 1:21 AM , Blogger Fi said...

Love this. You start off by thinking that she's the lucky one, the one with the good life, but gradually as you read further, her loneliness and the emptiness of her life soaks in. Thanks for sharing.

 
At December 19, 2013 at 8:23 AM , Blogger EagleAye said...

So well-written. This woman has lots of things but shuns the finest things in life. Even with her wealth she seems kind of sad. To each his own, I guess. The dialogue drove the story so very well. This was a pleasure to read.

 
At December 19, 2013 at 11:23 AM , Blogger Deborah Batterman said...

Bitterness seems to be the motif throughout, even more than loneliness.

 
At December 19, 2013 at 12:21 PM , Blogger Kelly Garriott Waite said...

Those are my sister's cookies and they're certainly gourmet. I can't limit myself to two...or three!

 
At December 19, 2013 at 12:21 PM , Blogger Kelly Garriott Waite said...

Thanks, Roxanne!

 
At December 19, 2013 at 12:21 PM , Blogger Kelly Garriott Waite said...

You're right! What is it with the chairs lately?

 
At December 19, 2013 at 12:22 PM , Blogger Kelly Garriott Waite said...

Thanks so much, Fi! I appreciate your reading.

 
At December 19, 2013 at 12:22 PM , Blogger Kelly Garriott Waite said...

Thanks for reading! She's definitely lonely and sad.

 
At December 19, 2013 at 12:22 PM , Blogger Kelly Garriott Waite said...

Yes, definitely. Thanks for reading!

 
At December 20, 2013 at 7:56 PM , Blogger Cameron said...

Just the chair in the divorce, but cash and a huge apartment and and and..

It does seem as though she's just doing it for show by the end... Poor thing.

 

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