I didn’t want to go out tonight, but Marla said she thought it might be good for me. It's hard to argue with that logic, I haven’t really gotten out much since Owen passed. What’s good for you is rarely what’s easy. Losing him really knocked the wind out of my sails. I never thought I’d be a widow and social recluse at the age of twenty-two, but here I am; a hermit in my prime. It’s funny how things work out sometimes. What’s that old saying? “Man plans, and God laughs.”
It was just a small get together at Marla’s house, but anxiety rarely allows me to enjoy myself. Luckily, I have known all the women in attendance since grade school. But unfortunately, I have known all the women in attendance since grade school. Sometimes, I wish people didn’t know about Owen at all. It’s been almost a year since the accident and no one really knows how to treat me yet, but I can’t blame them, I’m still trying to figure out how to treat myself.
We were only married for nine months, but Owen made every moment magic. That’s all women want, really. We don’t ask for much, just magic. Simple spells weaved throughout the day; a look, a touch, a kiss for no reason. Magic. Even though Owen worked a lot, he always found little ways to let me know that he was thinking of me. When he was working for Kaiser’s over on Fifth and Wayne, he would walk across the street during his lunch break to call me from the payphone. Money was always tight, so he would let the phone ring twice then hang up and I knew it was him.
“Two rings mean I love you.” he would say.
It really is the little things that you miss the most.
By the time I made it to Marla’s front door I had circled her block twice and chewed off most of the nails on my left hand. I personally found that to be a significant improvement from my typical ritual of circling the block three times then admitting defeat and going home.
“Birdie, I’m so glad you made it!” Marla exclaimed, ushering me through the door. “You will never believe what Cindy did to her hair.” she whispered, pulling me in close. “Try not to laugh.”
As soon as I felt the door close behind me I began planning my escape. It wasn’t like me to fly by the seat of my pants like that and waltz right into a social scene without even knowing whether or not the bathroom window was sizable enough to shimmy through. In my defense, I didn’t really expect to make it past the azaleas, let alone the doorway. For a moment, I thought perhaps maybe I could fake a migraine – or my death; either one would do. I wasn’t good in situations like these, I wasn’t made for them. People were Owen’s thing; I’ve always been more of a cat person. Taking a deep breath I twisted my hands together, squeezing the fear from my fingertips. Our wedding rings pressed deep into my skin, and he was there with me. Two rings mean I love you.
Marla was right; it was good for me to get out of the house. It had been so long since I had seen everyone that they were starting to become different people. She was right about Cindy’s hair too, poor girl. Not everyone has the bone structure for a perm. Marla, Cindy, Carmen, Barb, and I spent most of the evening doing what young women usually do when they are together; drink wine, eat chocolate, and do witchcraft. It is a well-known fact that when three or more women get together, witchcraft is bound to happen. The game of the evening was fortune telling.
“It’s simple, really.” Carmen said, holding up an apple. “Peel the apple until the strip breaks. Do that twice, then toss the peels into a bowl of water. It will fall in the shape of your future lover’s initials.”
“Aren’t you with Don?” Barb laughed.
“It’s all in good fun.” Carmen smiled.
The girls each took their turn, watching as the little strips of apple curled into Cs, Us, and the occasional J. Everyone was having a good time; I was even beginning to relax a little. Then it was my turn, and the laughter turned to an awkward silence. They were all thinking of Owen, I know I was.
“It’s all in good fun.” I said, taking the knife in hand.
When the first peel I tossed into the water swirled into an O, everyone in the room held their breath. I don’t know if they expected the next letter to be an S for Owen Sharp, but part of me did. I’m not sure if it’s sad or romantic that I can’t imagine ever being with anyone else.
The second peel finally settled into its form.
“O O”, I read aloud.
I must not have as good of a poker face as I thought.
“It’s just a stupid game, Birdie.” Cindy said, laying her hand delicately on my shoulder. “How many letters can you even expect to make with an apple peel?”
“Heck, I’m surprised it didn’t predict we would all end up with men named Oscar Olsen.” Barb laughed awkwardly.
“It’s all in good fun.”, I smiled.
I really didn’t want to go out tonight, but I’m glad that I let Marla nag me into it. It was good for me to get out of the house and see the girls again. I’m pretty sure if I had ignored any more social invitations the probability of me owning no less than twelve cats would have at least doubled. I know that the girls all think they upset me with the apple game, but that’s only because they don’t know what I know. It wasn’t two Os floating around in that bowl, it was two rings.
You must sign up or log in to submit a comment.
This is nice. It delivers the goods simply and sensitively. Lines like this - "In my defense, I didn’t really expect to make it past the azaleas, let alone the doorway. For a moment, I thought perhaps maybe I could fake a migraine – or my death" both give it humor and establish a really strong, relatable character.
I enjoyed this story. It was short and sweet yet contained a lot of relatable qualities, emotions, and meaning. Well done!
Thank you for the kind words and for reading my story.
Flow 4.5 Immersion 3.5. I was confused on the gender situation of the narrator for a minute. Use of "two rings means..." Reminded me of the good old days with collect call telephone. 'get three women together and you get witchcraft'... Funny but then you made it literal. Lol It seems like you nailed the characters for me. Azaleas. Driving around the block in the psychological condition that we call "shut in." I forget the technical name. This was fun to read. Thank you very much. Clapping.
Thank you so much for the review. I found it helpful. I wish more people would leave review type comments like this.
Can we get an email on your bio?