Fiction Friday: Here’s to Tomorrow by Alison Boston

We’re working on dialogue and more than one 3rd person POV in the writing group.  Here’s my effort. So much for flash fiction and keeping it under 500 words!  Better luck next time.

Mary walked out of the flower shop into the cold winter evening and gasped as she breathed in. It was freezing. Her exhaled breath clung to the air in a fine mist.

Cold as it was, it was also refreshing. She’d been standing on her feet all day, cutting endless pails of flowers. It was Christmas and the flower shop was going full speed and then some. She was exhausted. She couldn’t wait to get home and put up her feet, have a nice meal, and a glass of wine. Cliff had had the day off, and with any luck he’d have tidied up the apartment and cooked dinner.

The fifteen-minute walk to their apartment took some of the ache out of her legs, but by the time she got home she was chilled to the bone and dreaming of a nice long, soak in a hot tub, and dinner served to her in bed. Yet when she walked through the door, reality hit her in the face as sharply as the cold when she’d exited the shop. There he was, her husband of five years, sitting on the couch sucking on a beer, feet propped on the coffee table, watching the after-game chatter of the latest hockey match. She groaned.

Empty beer bottles littered the table and floor, and the ashtray overflowed with cigarette butts. Who was she kidding. She was married to a man who saw housework as woman’s work and no matter how many hours she put in at the flower shop and how many days he had off, he still saw cooking and cleaning as her job, and watching hockey as his.

“Bought a couple steaks.” He slurred, as she took off her coat.
“You could have cooked them.”
“That’s your job.” She followed the trail of empties into the kitchen, saw the breakfast dishes still on the table where she’d left them, and last night’s dinner dishes stacked in the sink and on the counter. “I can’t believe you didn’t do the dishes,” she moaned.
“It’s my day off,” he whined, emphasizing the my and the off. “ ’sides, they’re your dishes.”
“You couldn’t even put my breakfast dishes in the dishwasher? And what about last night’s dishes? Those are yours as much as mine.”
“You get two days off a week. I work shifts. I just finished a ten-day run. It’s my first day off. Besides I was watching the game. Least I got the groceries.”

He was standing in the doorway of the kitchen, slumped against the door frame, gazing at her through the dark curls hanging over his eyes. Damn, she’s a hot woman. My wife, the hottie. He was giving her his best “I’ve-been-a-naughty-boy look.” Got the girls at work every time. But it wasn’t working on his wife tonight. Mary caught the gaze which she knew only too well and wondered which girl at work was falling for it this week.

“Thought we could have steak’n’fries. Got a bag o’ frozen peas, too,” he said, trying to placate her.
She glared at him.
“Think I feel like cooking after standing on my feet all day? I haven’t sat down once since I got out of bed this morning! And look at this mess! What d’ya do all day? Drink?”
“I told you. Watched the game. ‘Sides it’s my first day off. Don came over and we hung out. I’ll clean up tomorrow.” He sidled over to her and wrapped his arms around her waist, squeezing her bum as he ground himself against her. “Bought a bottle o’ wine, little hanky-panky after supper.” He tried to kiss her on the mouth. She pushed him away, and on automatic pilot, opened the fridge door, pulled out the steaks, opened the freezer, grabbed the bags of French fries and peas, and put everything on the stove – the only clear space.

“I’m starving and exhausted. I want a bath, food and sleep,” she said, not missing a beat in the meal preparation as she spoke. She spun around and turned on the oven then picked her way through the dirty dishes, scrubbing pots so she’d have something clean to cook the food in, popped the fries in the oven, the peas in a pot of water, and the steaks in the frying pan. “You could at least clear the table and set it,” she growled.

No, she definitely wasn’t falling for the tousled-hair-in-the-eyes look tonight, so Cliff obliged, stacking more dirty dishes in the sink as he did.

“You could at least put them in the dishwasher.”
“It’s full.”
“Well empty it.”
“They’re dirty.”
“You didn’t even run the dishwasher!” She rolled her eyes in exasperation.
“That musta been some hockey game,” she muttered under her breath. Gad, men are so helpless.
“It was. Beat the Ruskies.” Mary let out a long sigh. Cliff put some soap in the dishwasher and turned it on, wiped the table and the vinyl place mats, rummaged in the cutlery drawer for knives and forks, opened the bottle of wine, then sat down and poured himself a glass.

“You could at least pour me a glass of wine.” She was getting snarly. Time to tiptoe, he thought. He got up and opened the cupboard to get her a glass and groaned. “Don’t tell me all the glasses are in the dishwasher!”

Lips set as tight as a newly budded rose, Mary marched into the living room, found a dirty glass, marched back into the kitchen and over to the sink, washed the glass, dried it and put it on the table then turned to the stove just in time to flip the steaks. She was like a dancer, Cliff thought, performing a well-rehearsed choreography as she pulled the fries out of the oven and slid them onto two plates, scooped a spoonful of peas onto each plate, added the steaks, put the two plates on the table, one in front of Cliff and one at her place, then sat down to eat.

Mary felt the ache of relief in her legs as she sat in the chair. It was the first time she’d sat down since eight o’clock that morning and it was now seven pm. Eleven hours on her feet. Just as she lifted the glass of red wine to her lips, Cliff jumped up from the table and started rummaging in the fridge. “Where’s the Worcester sauce?”

Mary hissed through gritted teeth and stood up as Cliff sat back down. She opened the fridge door, reached in and took out the bottle of sauce Cliff wanted so badly, yet seemed incapable of finding for himself. She unscrewed the lid and poured the contents over his head.

“There’s your Worcester sauce.” She said matter-of-factly, sitting back down to eat her meal. She choked back tears filled with rage, frustration and exhaustion. What was left of her mascara started to run in brown lines down her face.

Cliff clenched and unclenched his fists as the sticky brown sauce trickled through his curls and down his face, matching Mary’s lines of mascara.

“Did you remember to buy shampoo?” she asked, her voice as sweet as honey, half laughing, half crying, as she lifted the wine glass to her lips.
“Forgot,” he said, biting his lip to stop himself from exploding, yet there was a hint of a smile curling the corners of his mouth. Damn she had a twisted sense of humour.
“Guess you’ll have to use dish soap then. I used the last of the shampoo last night,” she gloated, just a little.
“To dish soap,” he said, raising his glass to hers, as he wiped Worcester sauce from his eyes.
“To Worcester sauce,” she said, wiping the tears from her eyes and clinking her glass to his.

He stood up from the table to get a paper towel to wipe his face. “Damn, I forgot to get paper towels.”
“There’s some in the linen cupboard, behind the sheets.”
“You’re amazing,” he said. “Don’t know what I was thinking about when I bought those steaks, should have ordered take-out.”
“Here’s to tomorrow.”
“To tomorrow.”

3 thoughts on “Fiction Friday: Here’s to Tomorrow by Alison Boston

Add yours

  1. Poor girl. She was so hungry, dinner sounded delicious as she cooked it. I could smell it! I like how you made Cliff so likeable. It’s always good when you can make the villian likeable. (I saw him as the villian anyway.) The story was an easy read! Great with my morning coffee. 🙂

    1. Glad you found it an easy read. That story wrote itself, starting with an image of that poor girl pouring the sauce over her husband’s head. It needs more development – could be the first of a series about that bizarre couple.

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