Saturday, August 1, 2020

Will You?

 Alice wakes up to breakfast. 


The sounds and smells of sizzling bangers and percolating coffee fill the small flat. She lies there for a moment, assessing whether or not the smells wafting in from the kitchen are going to make her puke before opening her eyes.


The morning light is soft. The sky is still pale blues and inky purples. It must be early. Figures. She always wakes up at an ungodly hour when she drinks too much. She tries sitting up, and is pleasantly surprised her head isn’t spinning. Gingerly, she swings her legs over the side of the bed and stands. Things are good until she bends down to retrieve her dress from last night. 


“Nope,” she jerks upright as bile immediately starts to fill her mouth. “Bad idea. That was a bad idea.”


Her own clothes are scattered about on the floor, and since picking them up is a no-go at the moment, she ducks into the bathroom instead. It’s clean, but cluttered. Definitely a man’s bathroom without a hint of a female touch. A razor sits haphazardly on the edge of the sink. One end of a discarded medical package sticks out of the trash bin, the clear plastic tubing inside clearly visible. There’s a bottle of extra strength ibuprofen next to his single, solitary toothbrush. 


She grabs the robe that’s hanging from the waist-high level hook near the walk-in shower and slips into, tying it loosely. After a moment of deliberation, she chances a glance at her reflection in the mirror. Not much she can do here, but better to assess the damage than willfully ignore it. Smudged mascara seems to be the worst of it. With a sigh, she takes some toilet paper, wets it, and rubs at her skin. 


“Would be nice to not have to do it like this,” she grumbles.  


While she works on making her smudged eyes look less smudgy, she can hear him in the kitchen. A scraping noise, followed by a springy thud sound. That’s the oven door closing. A moment later metal on metal and water running. They haven’t even had breakfast yet and Theo’s already cleaning up. 


She tosses her makeshift makeup wipe into the toilet and then heads into the kitchen. Sure enough, there he is, sitting in front of the sink, washing dishes. From the looks of it, he’s used every cooking utensil in his kitchen. The sink is full and the countertop is covered, but the small table is set for a feast for two. Bangers, eggs, toast, some fruit. The whole kit and caboodle. 


The breakfast spread looks amazing and smells even better, but what catches and keeps her attention are his bare shoulders. The sight makes her stomach flip in the best way–last night is still very fresh in her mind–and her aggravation from earlier is momentarily forgotten. With a mischievous grin, she discards the robe that she went to the trouble of finding, and tosses it onto the back of the couch. Then she pads quietly across the room and slips her arms around him. 


“Mmm, the rest of you is bare, too, I see,” she murmurs into his ear. 


There’s the briefest of pauses, then he drops the bowl he’d been scrubbing into the sink and spins around to face her. His eyes widen disbelievingly–Alice isn’t usually this cheeky, hungover or sober–especially these days. His hands are still soapy and dripping with water, but he doesn’t take the time to dry them. Instead he grabs her by the hips and tugs her down into his lap. 


Now he’s the one wrapping his arms around her, pulling her close for a kiss. She wraps one leg around the back of his wheelchair and tucks the other one, nestling her foot halfway underneath his thigh. The movement and her weight on his lap cause his legs to spasm, but neither of them pay much attention to that. 


“I could get used to mornings like this,” he says, a bit breathless, as she finally pulls away. He’s grinning like the Cheshire Cat. She’s grinning, too, actually, quite pleased with herself. So pleased that she almost stays naked for breakfast. But propriety–and a little bit of pettiness–gets the better of her and, so, she dons the robe again before settling into her seat at the table. 


“Me too.” She watches as he uses his hands to lift his legs, adjusting them from where they slipped off the flootplate during their makeout session. “Minus the hangover. I’m too old for this.” 


He chuckles–just a small exhalation of hot air–as he hands her a cup of coffee. 


“Mmm,” she closes her eyes, holds the cup close to her face, and lets the steam warm it before taking a big sip. “That’s the stuff.” 


She expects him to make some sort of quip, and when he doesn’t she opens her eyes. He looks on edge, then clears his throat. The telltale sign of nervousness. She arches an eyebrow at him in question. 


“You could have ‘the stuff’ every morning, you know.”


Ah. There’s the quip. She smiles, but it’s droll. “Hard to have it every morning when most mornings we wake up in different flats, Theo.”


It’s an old argument. The only argument. The one that permeates and infects everything between them lately. Heat rises to his face and he sighs, heavily, before pivoting his chair and wheeling back in the direction of the bedroom. 


She looks down at her coffee. And there goes what could have been a really nice morning. 


Maybe she should ease up a little. After all, nothing seems to be changing. What good has her animus done? It has been years and she’s still using toilet paper with spit as makeup wipes instead of keeping a pack here. Still shoving a travel sized toothbrush into her purse every time they go out. Still wearing his ugly terry cloth robe instead of her blue silk one because the terry cloth one is His and it’s Here and her blue one is Hers and it’s Not. 


The squeak of the rubber tires of his chair on the hardwoods pull her out of her reverie. Theo is back, looking decidedly unsure. Very unlike him. He uses his arms to brace himself, then lifts his butt, shifting position. His version of nervously shuffling from foot to foot.  


“I was going to do this at breakfast,” he tells her, shifting again. This time, the sunlight, brighter now and not so soft anymore, catches, making something glint, and draws her eye to his hand. There’s something clutched tightly in his left hand, but she can’t tell what it is. Nonetheless, her heart is now pounding at a rate that matches her throbbing head. 


He opens his hand. “Will you?” 


“Will I?” she echoes, not quite believing her ears or her eyes. 


“Will you?” he repeats as he slides a silver key across the table. 


And tied to it is a simple diamond wedding band. 



8 comments:

  1. Thank you EJ! Love it! I will definitly check out all your upcoming „stuff“.

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  2. Great short story!

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  3. Thank you so much! A sweet short story! Also, it's so nice to see some activity going on here again!

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  4. I love this so much, I love YOU so much!! Love your shorts.

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  5. Ah, that was so fun. Thanks.

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  6. Thank y'all for reading and for all the love! I really, really appreciate it! :)

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