Monthly Archives: February 2010

Graciously

The old dining room table was immaculately set with a cream-colored silk tablecloth and a complementary candelabra with burgundy candles.  Sandra had been preparing for tonight’s dinner since the afternoon prior, first clearing the dust and choosing the roses that would grace the table.

The guest was not a close friend, but an acquaintance she met through a friend.  No matter how much time she spent with her– which had accumulated over a period of two years at many different events and parties– Sandra could never reach a level of friendliness and comfort with her.  But she had invited her over for dinner tonight regardless.

She was done being nice.  Being nice, she realized, was boring, and for the past several years, she’d been disciplined, but she came to a realization that politeness caused stress and anxiety, and if there was a solution to get rid of it all at once, it would be to cause a scene involving red wine, fire, and the easily offended.

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Persimmons

Amanda, having lived in the same house for the past two decades, established a routine that wavered little from her first year on the farm.  She woke up at the same time every morning, drank English Breakfast tea with a little milk, and read the town’s newspaper.  It was a two-fold weekly, and shrank every couple of years.  After she was done, she put it in the mulching pile.  Her husband, Tom, didn’t care much for town gossip.

She put on the old boots and made her way out to the first greenhouse to check on the herbs.  They had about thirty greenhouses they customized with curved roofs, so the rain wouldn’t cave the ceilings in.  It was hard work, but it eased up after everything was established.  Tom did most of the work with little help.  In the dusky evenings, Amanda and Tom would go out to the persimmon groves and pick until their talk died down.  One in the box.  One in the mouth.  It was nice and they didn’t need anything more.

“Do you want to go on a cruise?”  Tom asked once.

Amanda had a friend over earlier that morning, picking up her cat after her vacation to the Bahamas.  She told them all about the ship, supposedly large enough for an ice rink, bowling alley, and a ballroom, among other things.  Not that any of those were utilized.  Most of the time was spent in the pool and in the restaurants.  It probably would have been fun, but she never cared much for the sea.  And she knew Tom; he was just offering because he knew she would decline.  And it was OK.

“No, you know how I hate being around large crowds.  And boats.  Seasick.”  She smiled.

He smiled back, taking a sip of his evening whisky.  “I know.”

“Want to pick some persimmons?”  she said.

He got up, walked over and gave her a bear hug, complete with a muffling squeeze.  “This is why I married you, sweets.”

….

Amanda was wearing her nicest dress.  She only had one dress for going out; there was no need for more.  She tried to read the magazines but her mind wandered.  Tom looked intensely focused.  The receptionist called Tom’s name, and they walked over to the door that separated before from after.

….

It was a nasty disease; the most brutal kind, robbing a person of their sanity, personality, and memories, and doing it in the most painfully slow way as possible.

On most days, Tom stared outside, quizzically, asking Amanda how the greenhouses were built, what was grown inside, and who took care of them.  Occasionally he asked her questions about herself, if she liked life on the farm, what she did, and sometimes, if she were married.  He seemed to deflate when she answered yes, but when she would add that they were married to each other, he would immediately brighten and say, “Oh!”

On good days, Amanda would find Tom putting on his boots.  He would wink at her and say,

“Hungry for persimmons, sweets?”

They would go outside to the groves, talking and eating persimmons as if the doctor’s visit happened in another world.  One in the box and one in the mouth, until it was time for bed.

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