Friday, February 6, 2009

The Make-Up Game

(the Search Engine Fiction prompt this week was Wild as the Wind- here's my attempt)

He lost her the second the fight started. He thought he heard the snap of that last straw but in the heat of things it passed unnoticed. Now alone in their one room house, the snap’s memory echoed off the cinder block walls mocking him for his inattention.

What was it they had fought about? A broom he thinks. Something about a broom. She’d pushed him and he slapped her. It felt good. At the time the solidness reaffirmed his rightness in whatever it was they were fighting about.

She stood up from the floor where she fell. Straight and tall she stood, her eyes furious and deadly silent. He was pleased with the flowering outline of his open hand blooming on her cheek, a light red in colour. It would remain a few days, maybe blue-up; he was satisfied with that. It would teach her a lesson looking at it each morning.

She stood still, her hands balled at her sides. “I’ve had enough now.” She spoke in a hard, black, monotone, but he let it bounce off him. Her dramatics were part of the game.
He looked away and when he looked back the door was open and she was gone, out into the heavy noon-day heat. He knew she’d walk and walk through the sand where sweat was not given the chance to runoff , evaporating in the 50 C+ heat before it even formed a droplet. She’d be melting away without even realising it. She’d walk until she collapsed knowing he’d come after her; to save her, he always did.

He’d done it many times before; their strange make-up ritual. He’d carry her bird-light body home and lay her in the zinc tub, stroke her tenderly with bubbles and perfume until the fight washed off and they could love each other again. The finding and the bathing were his own kind of apology, the only one she ever accepted from him.

He waited some before taking off to collect her. He let the bath fill and poured the blue liquid in, splashing it around to form bubbles. He heard the door slam hard against the house and at first paid it no attention. By the time he stood up to go, it was already too late.
The wind had picked up suddenly, wild and raging. Her footprints, his guide to finding her out in the vast Namib, carried on for only three steps and then were blasted away by the fury of the wind, as if she’d been sucked up into the clouds. He called out and his voice was thrown back to him in contempt. The wind was not playing their game today.

He stood a moment allowing the meaning of events to seep through, but the understanding didn’t mean the accepting. Head bent, he set off in one direction then veered toward the opposite. Started back at the house, sitting alone at the edge of the ocean, and ploughed into the wind yet again. Over and over until dark.

Now he sat. The victorious wind still howled in celebration. Sand blew in the open door and drifted in a heap on the floor. Somewhere she was waiting for her apology and he froze statue-still by the thought of it.


Anonymous said...

I hate those sorts of games, I really do.

'He thought he heard the snap of that last straw..' is the way it always is in a fight. We know, intuitively, when we have crossed the line, but we just can't help ourselves.

The tension, frustration and despair in this domestic tableau is so well-executed. The sand coming in the door in the final part is like an omen of the end of it all.

Raw and real!!!

Anonymous said...

"The tension, frustration and despair in this domestic tableau is so well-executed_ -Selma.

I must agree. Fine writing. Thanks,

Lauri said...

Selma, David- Thanks for stopping by and for your kind comments.lolo

Pirate Princess said...

Oh how terribly terribly sad for it to end that way! I don't like those games either - they always end up in tragedy, in one form or another.

You had me glued to my seat as I read it! :)

Anonymous said...

oh my, you have written the abuser so well. It is chilling, too close to the bone - the dynamic between bully and victim so real. Excellent writing throughout - love how fresh a take you had on the last straw, sound in general an element working so well in this piece. bravo, bravo!!

Anonymous said...

ah yes - misspelled my own name...that sums up the day

Anonymous said...

I like to think she left him and had refused to play this game, off to a better place perhaps

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groovyoldlady said...

Oooo. Goose bumpy. So real and so sad.

I rather thought she'd finally left him for good. Maybe she did. Maybe she made it to the next village before the storm, taken in by widow and her three children. A widow who understood...

Helen Ginger said...

Great story. I thought he was going to go out in the storm to find her, then we'd see her walk back inside, close the door, knowing he'd be lost in the storm.

Very moving. Thanks for sharing.

(I Scrabble tagged you today.)

Helen Ginger

Karen said...

oooh... so rich with images, sounds, and emotions. I also hope she found a better place and will live long and happy, while he worries and regrets his actions for the rest of his days.

Lauri said...

It's funny how what you thought your wrote becomes something else when readers get to it.

When I set out to write this story I wanted it to be about the odd things we do without thinking of the consequences, and then having that thing take a deadly turn. Knowing the barren vastness of the Namib, I just assumed everyone would know she died, but then my hopeful readers saw her walk away to freedom. That is so much better. Thanks