[Artwork: Arthur de Pins]
I love this image. So much so that it inspired me to write a short story.
THE MAN, THE GIRLS, & THE WOMAN
A widower. It has been a year since his wife passed away. Time was supposed to heal wounds, but his wound only seemed to expand and sharpen as the days slowly ticked by. He loved her and she had loved him, even when his best feature had slowly started to recede.
He began to write shortly after they were wed. She was the only person who ever read his work. For sixty plus years he had written for her. He would smile as she laughed hard, clutching at her aching stomach. When she was moved to tears he would reach for a Kleenex and watch her dab at the corners of her eyes. His skin would tingle in anticipation when she would slowly lower the last page and quirk an eyebrow at him, expression full of seduction.
During those last months he had promised her that he would no longer hide his words. That he would share them with others. She had said that the joy his work had brought her should be exposed to the world, and he had given her his word.
It was a promise he intended to keep, and finally on the first cool autumn day he had carried his trusty old typewriter out to the table on the balcony, along with his favorite picture of her. Except now the words would not come, not as he wanted them to. He tried, he wrote about how much she had meant to him, he wrote about their life, he wrote about his hopes to see her again – soon.
Yet, without her there to read his words, they felt, empty.
In frustration he would rip the page out of the machine, and curse under his breath as he squeezed it into a ball, tossing it over his shoulder. How many pages had he thrown out? He did not know, he did not care, he had stopped counting after page seven.
Who was he fooling? He was not a good writer, his reason for writing was gone, but yet he had promised, so he kept writing…
They had been friends since the days of colouring books and pigtails. Had gone from discussing Barbie’s to boobs to boys. The 20′s had brought on busy lives full of long work hours and boyfriends. Their once a week lunch date was a sacred time for the girls, in a world of phone calls and text messages it was their time to put all that aside and just enjoy being together.
It was on the way home from one of these dates that they came across a sprinkling of discarded papers. Jan had made a comment about littering, but it was Sophie who had picked one up with the intention to throw it away. If you asked her, she would not be able to tell you why she opened it, only that she was glad she did.
It had taken only three lines for her to call the other two over to read it for themselves. They were captivated, no, that was not it. They were enchanted. Avid readers, all three of them, and yet never had they been so bewitched by a single page…
If it was not for the need to restock her fridge, she would never have left the house that day. It was getting cold, and she hated the cold. The big winter coats did nothing for her figure. With a heavy sigh she pulled on her favourite one and paused to look at her reflection. At least it was still warm enough for her to wear her favourite fishnets.
The grocery store was just a few blocks away, and she hummed to herself as she made the short journey.
The thing that struck her about the girls was that they were not moving. Young ladies of that age group today were always moving. Rushing here and there or talking on there little portable telephone machines. Not these girls though, they were huddled together reading something, a piece of paper that had surely been a part of the set that was now scattered across the sidewalk. They stood there, seemingly mesmerized.
It was curiosity. Curiosity that had her ignoring the cold wind and her aching hip, making her bend down to reach for one of the little scrunched up paper balls…