I always thought I settled for less—for snatches. That first time when you asked if the devil looked like you, I kissed you as if I was Scarlet O’Hara. I let you think you had the wicked glint of Rhett Butler rather than the dull patina of poor old beige Ashleigh. It was the start of all my unsaid things.
We both study the decaying leaves trapped in a web outside the kitchen window they tremble like chimes that have lost their music; a clump cluster together in the corner of the pane then trail off like people leaving a party too soon. I should take a broom to them or try to capture the brittle beauty in a photo—I do neither. You make a comment about it might be time to give the house a general spruce up. It’s not much of a conversational starter so I shrug on my coat and head out for a walk.
What does disappointment smell like? Is it the scent of another steak and kidney pie that oozes gravy like a bloody wound, that is pushed around your plate until it disintegrates into mush? I know you don’t care for suet crust pastry but I serve it occasionally anyway. I play a little game to see how much of it you will eat. Tonight you surprise me; you eat the whole thing. When I look out of the window the leaves and the web are gone.
You clear your throat and tell me you’ve met somebody. Somebody who has said she can’t live without you, somebody so very unlike me who can barely live with you. You tell me you are no longer content to settle for less, to live your life in snatches. When I ask about the leaves you look mystified.
They must have gone with the wind I say with a laugh (or maybe it was a wail).
Adele Evershed is an early childhood educator and writer. Her work has been published in print and online in a number of journals including Every Day Fiction, Ab Terra Flash Fiction Magazine, Grey Sparrow Journal, bee house journal, and Shot Glass Journal. She has upcoming pieces in Gingerbread House, green Ink Poetry and Hags on Fire.
Photo credit – Adele Evershed