I know I haven’t written anything in here since October, and I do apologize for it. It seems I’ve been in a bit of a creative rut I’m only now beginning to kick. Maybe I’m finally feeling the pressure of the end of the year. I began working on another couple of stories but started this one up tonight and I’m kind of hoping I can start up a little ritual, writing a bit of it each night after work. I should also be writing up another (LONG overdue) piece for GlobalGrasshopper.com this week and maybe I’ll try to get back to my NYC Stories soon for those wondering what happened (or didn’t happen) that night with the DJ, not to mention more tales from my adventures on the road earlier this year.
Anyway, this is obviously a rough draft, so keep that in mind. In any event, meet Alice and Floyd:
Alice could feel the mucous collecting in her sinuses, and her throat getting scratchy and sore, and her eyes watering, and the muscles surrounding her bones aching more and more, and how there was nothing she could do. She would have to ride it out.
She didn’t want to be sick; didn’t really need to. There had always been a good excuse to stay home from work, hiding under the covers, craving the attention of Floyd. He was never more attentive than when she was sick. That whole loyalty bit really kicked in when she was sick. Floyd Nightingale, with the Vaporub and the hot chamomile tea and the remote control for the television; her clammy fingers pressing on the little rubber rectangles, feeling the painted numbers as she switched from channel to channel. He even brought her the pink slippers her mother had bought her one Christmas, which she rarely remembered to use. That was, until she got sick twice a year, and she recalled her mother’s nagging: Put on your slippers before you catch your death!
“Need anything else, baby? I gotta go or I’ll miss the train,” Floyd’s smooth as silk voice echoing from the bathroom as he finished fussing with his hair. He’d gotten a haircut a few days before but the barber had gotten a phone call half way through and his distractions were obvious near the right ear and all around the crown of his head.
“No… I’m okay. Well, wait, no. Actually, can I get some more water please? And you said there’s money for food, right? I don’t think I can get up to make anything today. I feel so weak,” she said, going from one thought to the other as she usually did.
“I left you a $20 on the counter for whatever you need,” he said as he entered the bedroom with a fresh glass of water. She took a few steady sips and smiled, putting the glass back on the window ledge where she normally kept it on nights she slept over. It all felt so familiar. Back in his house, in his bed, which had once been theirs. She had even helped him pick it out, even given him $50 for it, and ridden home with him in the Buick that day. She could remember it. A Sunday, and they had been afraid of rain but luckily they made it home in the nick of time.
And now here they were, 31 and 43 respectfully. And he was still the same but not at all and she was nothing if not a composite shadow of who she once was. Floyd knelt down to give her a quick kiss on the forehead, and she reached her hands up to adjust the navy blue tie around his neck, and it all seemed so foreign, to see him going to work in a tie, to see the pomade in his hair, his teeth freshly whitened from a visit to the dentist the week before. He’d really made it, or at least he was finally giving the appearance that he had. Her fingers stroked the side of his cheek, the stubble pricking like men’s faces will do sometimes. A grin on his face, he kissed the palm of her hand.
“I’ll be back in a few hours. Watch your TV shows and tell me all about them when I get back, but don’t get up unless you have to!”
And out the door he went, the ghost of his cologne lingering on everything he’d touched before he left, including her forehead, including her palm, and on the water glass as well. She drank some more and settled on an episode of the Brady Bunch, where Bobby and Cindy try to make it in to the Guinness Book of World Records.
It wasn’t that Floyd was a bad guy and it wasn’t that Alice was a bitch, although Alice could certainly see how it could be interpreted that way, and Floyd could tell that was how people might have seen it at certain moments. It was just a matter of timing, so to speak.
They met so many years before, working together at a little music shop. He was a manager there before she’d even heard of the place – a local business that her mother had been going to for years when she was growing up. It was the holidays and she was just shy of 19, looking for a little part time job to stave off the boredom while on break from school. In she went with resume in hand and not a hair out of place, walked right up to the counter and said, “Hi, I’m Alice and I was wondering if you might be hiring for the season. I’ve got my resume right here and I’m ready to work.”
Floyd was shuffling through a stack of papers. He looked up and saw her: big brown eyes, lashes fluttering, braces catching every light in the store.
“I see. Yes, we are hiring right now, just a temporary thing. But let me get you an application, just a second,” he said, pushing back the hand she had extended with her resume and walking to the back of the store.
He hired her 3 days later and on the 4th day he knew it hadn’t been a mistake, but that it also had been. She was a hard worker, albeit a bit clumsy at times. There wasn’t a day that went by where she didn’t knock something over with an elbow or a hip or that she didn’t step on someone’s foot or that she didn’t accidentally hang up a telephone call when taking an order. It was endearing. She was endearing; so much different from Becca, his wife, and yet they both had a similar laugh, the kind where it sounded as though they’d been shocked into hysterics and then slowly subdued into a light chuckle. The whole thing made him uneasy.
Constructive criticisms and other musings always appreciated!