The Canadian Writers' Collective

Writing, and writerly tangents

Wednesday, February 07, 2007

A Flash of Love

by Steve Gajadhar

I whipped this little ditty up awhile back and then never bothered to find it a home. I can think of no better resting place than here in the CWC as part of our ruminations on love. Enjoy.

Evenings

“We should go on a trip,” Helen says.

“Where?”

“Anywhere, anywhere but here, you’ve never been back home, let’s go see Jamaica.”

“I’ve seen it.”

“I never have.”

“Take your sister.”

Helen watches Ned flick through the channels on the television. “I want to take you.”

“Take Greg.”

Helen sighs. Soon it will be dark. She will turn on the lights, sit in her chair--legs slightly apart because she walks all day at her job and her legs have grown red and chafed from years of rubbing together--and lean towards the big window that unfolds their evenings to the neighbourhood so she can watch the other windows blink to life while Ned sleeps on the couch.

“I want to go with you.”

“I don’t want to go back.”

“Greg really wants you to go.”

“When I retire. We’ll go then.”

“So next year then.”

“Next year.”

“We’ll all go? As a family?”

Ned nods, and continues scanning through the channels. “There’s nothing on.”

“Have you watched your soaps?”

“Yes.”

“Well, pass me the TV thing, it’s by your hand.”

Ned passes her the TV thing. Helen searches through its pages, looking out the bottom of her glasses. Helen is nearsighted. She doesn’t need the bifocals she wears but has convinced herself she does. She tells people she can no longer see the letters at the bottom of the chart, even when the doctor flips the lenses in front of her eyes and says, “here and here,” flick, “now and now,” flick, “a or b?” and she picks B, and the doctor says, “you’re fine, Helen, no change in five years and you’ll be the same in twenty the way your eyes are holding up.” But Helen buys new glasses anyways.

“What’s on?”

Helen can’t read the TV thing through her bifocals. “Seinfeld is coming on.”

“Seinfeld is always coming on. Any golf?”

“Channel twelve.”

Ned changes the channel. He will fall asleep soon. It’s eight, the time when they get quiet.

“Do you want a sandwich or something?”

“Nope.”

“It sounds like the Miller’s are at it again.” Helen putters into the kitchen and peeks out one of the windows. “Yep, he’s drunk again. He’s been in the jail you know, Ned.” She tugs at her nightgown. “Do you want a tart?”

“Sure.”

Helen pulls a Tupperware container out of the fridge freezer, pops the top and picks out one of the big tarts. She carries it over to Ned. “It’s frozen.” She stands there for a moment, in front of the TV, until Ned cranes his head to try and see around her. She does a little dance and chuckles, “Now there’s something on.”

Ned smiles. He waits for her to move before he nibbles on his tart.

“It’s frozen.”

“I can heat it up.”

“That’s okay.”

“I should call Greg.”

“It’s late there.”

“Oh I always forget the time difference. He’ll be worried though, I always call Tuesdays.” Helen gets up to peek out the kitchen window again. The Millers are outside on the lawn. “They’re outside, Ned.”

Ned turns up the TV.

“Turn it down, Ned. I can’t hear what they’re saying.”

“Don’t be so nosy.” Ned shifts to lie on his side.

Dark now, and Helen sits, leans forward in her chair--legs slightly apart--and watches the windows light up one by one by one, watches their contents unfold into the world.

Ned watches her. The way her upper lip twitches when she holds herself still. The way her hand strays down and tugs her nightgown away from her stomach. The way she rocks. She puts the cordless phone down and gets up. On her way to the bathroom she stops and rests her hand on Ned’s head. Ned smiles and brings his hand up to pat hers.

Ned’s sleepy. Supper was at five because supper is always at five. He watches his soaps from five thirty to six. He tapes two hours of soaps but fast-forwards through most of it, because things don’t change much on the soaps. After the soaps he sleeps. At nine they go to bed and watch Coronation Street and Antiques Road Show, and there is something about how the television only lights their faces and leaves the rest of the room in shadow that makes Ned afraid.

They hold each other tightly in bed.



7 Comments:

Anonymous redpen said...

Evenings turn into lives this way... Excellent piece, Steve.

Wed Feb 07, 02:51:00 pm GMT-5  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

A real evening you've painted here, Steve. I like the way you've described the window lights coming on in the evening. ~Jen

Wed Feb 07, 03:23:00 pm GMT-5  
Blogger Tricia Dower said...

I like the echo of their lives with the soaps: nothing much changes on both of them. Ruts R Us. And I love seeing some of your fiction. Thanks.

Wed Feb 07, 04:30:00 pm GMT-5  
Blogger Andrew Tibbetts said...

You could pair this with a story from the Millers p.o.v. with this couple in their background. I'm just thinking about what those Millers might be up to!

Thanks for sharing this, Steve.

Wed Feb 07, 05:02:00 pm GMT-5  
Blogger Steve Gajadhar said...

Thanks, everyone.

Thu Feb 08, 02:17:00 pm GMT-5  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Funny, smart dialogue, Steve.

Diane, The Maple Room

Thu Feb 08, 05:52:00 pm GMT-5  
Blogger Patricia said...

just excellent Steve, wonderful story, thanks for sharing it with us..xo

Sat Feb 10, 01:39:00 pm GMT-5  

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