I love this story. I wrote it for a class I took over 10 years ago. I think it might be time to submit it if I can strengthen the final paragraph. Enjoy!
I am sitting in the middle of the staircase with a Coke, thinking of a woman. She is in a black bikini – she always wears black – and she has long dark hair, worn in a loose twist on the top of her head. She is stretched out to her full length on an impossibly large and fluffy white beach towel spread over a cast iron chaise. Whenshe lifts the thin span of lycra from her hip, she exposes creamy skin, flawless of course. Where this woman walks, the sun always shines, and it’s clear from the contrasting skin that she is never overdressed.
I am sure her name is Natasha and she is certain to speak with some exotic accent. She looks like an artist, or perhaps someone connected with the theatre – a director? She is fluent in seven languages and knows a different secret in each one.
I am sitting on the kitchen counter with a glass of iced tea, thinking of a woman. She is wearing a dark gray trench coat, and although she is standing beneath a streetlight in dense fog, she wears dark glasses. When she turns form the street to look up at one of the windows above, a small book of sonnets falls from her purse. She bends like a dancer and returns the book to her bag, fog swirling around her ankles.
I think her name is Grace and she carries the kind of tragic secret that, if she told you, would bind you to her forever. She is waiting for someone, confident that he will arrive any moment. I suspect that she is wearing pearls around her neck, but she has pulled up the collar of her coat, so I cannot be sure.
I am sitting on the patio opening a new pack of cigarettes, thinking of a woman. She is dressed in an evening gown. Her shoulders and back are bare – the dress leaves just enough to the imagination. She is tall and moves like Venus and every eye in the room watches as she walks to the bar. She watches back for a moment, and then clicks a beautifully manicured nail on the rim of her glass until the bartender approaches.
I believe her name is Francesca and she whispers something in Italian to the bartender. She seldom speaks English and wears only red. The bartender is agitated. She smiles at him with ripe lips and he mutters under his breath. He brings her drink and leaves it in front of her. Without meeting her eyes, he palms the matchbook she pushes toward him. I think the two men at the end of the bar follow her back into the crowd.
Now I am thinking of a woman sitting on her bed with her head in her hands, surrounded by wadded up tissues, her shoulders shaking. She is unemployed and when she finds a job it will be in a dingy little office with dingy little people. She lives in a small townhouse with her lover. In her lap is a book with perhaps 30 pages, a few of which have been written upon in his precise handwriting. Names of women. Phone numbers.
This woman, of course, has a name, but like most things about her, the name is unremarkable. All that matters is that she is sure her lover is planning to leave her for one of the woman in his book, and why shouldn’t he? She thinks of his fine runner’s legs, the golden hairs on the backs of his hands, the mole on his belly. But what is there for him to think of her? She has no accent, no sonnets, no nails to click. She has never had a seret.
Until now. She slips the book back into place under the socks in the drawer where she found it.
When he comes home, she has gathered her hair at the nape of her neck and pinned it into place with long sure fingers. She wears pearl earrings and a sapphire sundress. She gives him a slow, steady smile, like a woman with a past.