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This week’s Tuesday Tale:
Dimples. I looked at my father and then back to the woman at his side. The woman wore bright red lipstick the shade young women reserve for an evening out on the town. It was not a color appropriate for a quiet dinner with a gentleman and his son. She had my mother’s emerald studded necklace cinched around her throat. In earlier years I would have disputed with my father in private over such bestowing mother’s finery to his mistresses, but the jewelry meant nothing to my mother now and she would not have us argue. There weren’t any similarities between this new woman except those dimples. Mother’s smile dazzled men. I think that’s why he did it, my father that is. I think that’s why my father got rid of her. He couldn’t stand the jealously. His love for her out grew his ego so he sent her down to the ocean where she loved to be and divorced her quietly with a handsome salary. Men like my father could do that without recourse. I resented him for it, but I don’t think mother did. I asked her about it once when I went to visit her.
“Your father doesn’t want a wife, Timmy.”
She still calls me Timmy as if I’m still her little boy clad in blue striped overalls over a white onesie and a diaper. I’m a man of thirty now dressed is a silk suit as I recline with her at the country club for brunch. I know she isn’t mentally deranged as father’s physician pronounced, but I still wonder how a woman’s dignity can be preserved after such humiliation. My father never abused her by fist or force, but I heard the arguments. I felt her pain as he unjustly riled her for being a flirt and a whore behind his back. The fights would end with her crying meekly in a corner.
Like the proverb, her beauty faded. My father could not handle a plain wife any more than a beauty and so the emotional abuse continued. I’m of the opinion that her looks faded because she was unloved by the man she was devoted to and not age. Old age never took anything from my mother. In fact, I believe it is coming back to her the longer she spends by the sea. The dark circles are beginning to fade from under her eyes and there is a softness about her mouth that had long disappeared.
“Your father wants his ego more than anything in the world. He can’t conduct his business without it. Don’t let his fancies concern you, Timmy, but learn from him and do the opposite.”
She smiled again and pat my hand. I must have been in a daze because I was startled by the touch.
“Learn from him and do the opposite. I wish you could promise me that, but promises are cheap.”
She smiled. The dimples in her cheeks pulled her face into a doll like glow.
I didn’t visit her often. I should have, but between business and sleep I never found the time. I think that’s why he removed her to the coast. He wanted to keep me from her, to isolate her. I thought about hating him for it, for divorcing her, but she insisted that I shouldn’t.
“Don’t, Timmy. It’s not worth it. I’ll be happy here. Look,” she nodded toward the shoreline. I was dropping off the last of her belongings as she settled in to her new home. Her bungalow was furnished with a balcony overlooking the beach. It was the only kind gesture I could appreciate my father for and she made sure I noticed. Somehow my mother still loved my father and wanted to protect me from him.
The third time I visited her, I was forty-two. Life had treated me cruelly with love, but that was my father’s doing. He found fault with any woman I presented and I was compelled to agree. I don’t regret most of the girls I lost to his judgment, but at forty-two I found one that I couldn’t leave. I decided to see my mother.
“She’s the one, mother. She isn’t afraid to meet father, but I don’t want to see her destroyed like he destroyed you.”
Mother reached out to touch my hand. I believe she has grown more beautiful as the years have stacked against her. The sea was reclaiming its mermaid princess. Her skin had a pearl glow now and her eyes sparkled like the stars reflecting off the night waters. Mother did not talk much while I visited her that last time, but she held my hand and smiled softly.
I thought of that smile as I sat with my own mermaid princess. Anna was the picture of serenity as she sat opposite of me on the yacht deck. The moon glittered off the ocean waters and off the diamonds in her ears. Anna was my match. I could look her in the eye and she could rile me or seduce me at will. But despite her ability she respected me. I held her hand the way my mother held mind and in my ignorance I wondered if my father every loved my mother. If he had, how could he have hurt her?
We wed in the spring as the frost lifted and the trees budded out. I tasted jealousy in our first year and have many times since. I thought it bitter at first and spat it from my mouth, but jealousy is a dangerous opponent. Anna came to me after one such bout. She held my hand and perched on her tip toes to whisper reassuringly in my ear, “In this crowded room with men great and small, I notice only you.” While other men may look admiringly upon her in her gown that lies like skin against her elegant form, I deny jealousy the pleasure to drive and deprive me from my bride.
Thank you for reading! Did you like these characters? If you were the divorced lady, what advice would you have given your son in the end?
This week’s Tuesday Tale:
All I wanted was a glass of water. If it hadn’t been for the water, I would not be downstairs in the family room when Uncle Jacobs had a heart attack. I was seventeen years old. It was Christmas vacation. The whole family was set to arrive in no less than five hours. Uncle Jacobs arrived the night before because he lived just down the road and the water pipes in his house had burst. Reluctantly, Dad agreed to let him stay with us until it was fixed.
Dad and Uncle Jacobs did not get along, they never had. Uncle Jacobs was Mom’s brother and without any argument it was collectively agreed among our family that he was crazy. But we don’t live in the era where family members get locked up for being a little strange, we just deal with them. And we live in a region where everyone has one of those sort of family members. Everyone understands that and everyone has been instructed since childhood to forgive and ignore those quirky folks. The way we see it, Uncle Jacobs never harmed anyone, he was just a pain to deal with sometimes.
That morning Mom was at the grocery store with my sisters buying two more ingredients that she forgot. If she spent everyday for the last week in that place gathering ingredients, she would still have forgotten two. That was just the way things happened around here. Dad said grocery shopping was more of a social outing than a chore for her and that he didn’t mind as long as the bills were reasonable and the food tasted good.
Dad and Mom tolerated each other. I think whatever romance was between them died after my sister Katie came along. They hadn’t planned on her. They had four children and were done. When Katie came, I think they just didn’t know how to interact with each other anymore.
Getting back to Uncle Jacobs, I came down the stairs, turned the corner and he jumps out of the recliner. I don’t know why he jumped. Maybe I scared him, I don’t know. He looked more like he was trying to startle me than I had scared him. Uncle Jacobs was always doing strange things to get attention. He pointed to something out the window, but I knew better than to fall for that old trick so I laughed at him and walk by to go to the kitchen. I was thirsty, remember?
As I get to the kitchen I hear this loud thud. I knew straight away what had happened, at least I thought I did. You see Mom insisted that we have this giant, fake tree every year and every year Dad would argue that we should have a live tree. Mom always won. The giant, fake tree had the wobbliest base and at least once during the holidays even a preacher could bet in good consciousness that the tree would fall over. Once it fell over on Grandma while everyone was opening gifts. She was fine. Grandma was like that, nothing could harm her, except liver failure. She’d still be around if it weren’t for that.
I turn back around hoping that the tree didn’t fall on Uncle Jacobs, but fully prepared to lift the plastic giant off him. I’m a strong kid, you have to be with four women in the house because they’re always asking you to help them with something heavy or open a pickle jar. Women around here just assume you have to be strong because you’re of the masculine sex.
Well, the tree didn’t fall. I’ll admit I was surprised to see it still standing rather plum in the corner with the bright, gold star slightly off kilter on top. It was Uncle Jacobs who had hit the ground. I didn’t see him at first because the recliner was blocking his collapsed form. I heard him though. He was moaning and moaning. I rushed around the chair and found him gripping his chest just like they do in the movies. That was the only reason I knew he was having a heart attack. I ran to the phone and dialed 9-1-1. I did everything they tell you to do in the movies. I even found aspirin and stuck it under his tongue.
I really thought he would die right there on our living room floor the day before Christmas. He looked awful and there wasn’t a thing I could do but watch for the ambulance to arrive. Those boys took forever to get there.
Mom got back from the grocery store just after the ambulance arrived. I greeted her at the door to prevent my sisters from seeing the paramedics shock his bare chest. A half-clothed Uncle Jacobs was not a sight for innocent, female eyes.
The medics got him breathing again. They said his heart was beating normal. I thought they would have to shock Mom too when she got so white she nearly fainted, but I sat her down on a chair and she pulled herself together. They took Uncle Jacobs to the hospital, making it the first Christmas without crazy Uncle Jacobs to make us laugh. We missed him as we opened our presents around the plastic, giant tree, but he was back next year and made up for it. As for me, I’m just glad I wanted that glass of water.
Thank you for reading! I’m sure you enjoyed the visual aid of Courtney Boose’s artwork. What memorable occurrences happened at your family holiday gathering?
This week’s Tuesday Tale:
Peter rolled out of bed and rubbed his eyes. He didn’t know it yet as he smoothed out his cowlicked hair, but today was a day he would remember for the rest of his life. He rushed downstairs and grabbed the slice of toast with jam his mother put out for him. When she told him to remember his manners, he muffled out a “thank you” between chews. She shook her head in disapproval, but was satisfied by his attempt. She could not be displeased with him, her ambitious nine year old rushing out the door for work as a newsboy. He was proud of his job and took it more seriously than she thought a boy of his age could, but Peter was always surprising her. His brothers weren’t half as mature as Peter, her middle child. He was ambitious, but quiet. She never doubted his ability, she just wished he would sit and finish his glass of milk before charging head first into the day. Continue reading
This week’s Tuesday Tale:
My brother Charlie was ugly. Now I hate to say it because it sounds so mean, but you just have to own up to the way a person looks sometimes. He wasn’t born ugly, he chose it. Okay, well, he didn’t choose it, but he chose to become a boxer. One broken nose can make a guy look distinguished, but repeated breaks on top of busted lips and black eyes has a way of ruining anyone’s looks. Charlie didn’t mind though. Charlie loved boxing.
This week’s Tuesday Tale:
Brittany picked up the aloe vera plant from the window sill. The plant was vigorous and healthy. It was the epitome of a plant cared for by a botanist. Brittany took the plant from it’s favored microclimate by the south bay window and took it out into the harsh March wind on the back porch. She carried the pot to the corner where she had taken the others. She would not like to admit that she gave the plant a sorrowful look and let a sigh escape her lips before she turned the pot upside down and shook it until the contents loosened from the plaster clay mold and dropped mercilessly into the trash can. The plant and soil spattered in a glob with the others that had gone before.
This week’s Tuesday Tale :
Jeremy Wilcox never had reason to doubt his hearing, but after all the firefights he had lived through over here for this unending, ungodly war, he thought that maybe he could not rely on his ears as well as he once did. The war had taken its toll on Wilcox same as any other foot soldier. He only hoped he would make it home without a flag over his chest. From the looks of it, he might be getting his wish. Yesterday Wilcox’s regiment was given papers to return home. He didn’t have a clue whether that meant the war was over, even though that’s what the papers said. It was hard to believe the dirty thing had ended because he hadn’t seen the enemy go down. He had killed many a soldier, but who’s to say the enemy was defeated? Wilcox didn’t concern himself with politics except when he was drunk and in a foul humor, then he became a real lobbyist. He was sober now, at least he was pretty sure he was.
“What did you say?” Continue reading