Wednesday, April 4

Après moi

The strawberries are red lips, glistening in the bite marks, freshly glossed and plump. She catches herself staring at the half-eaten one dangling from her shaking hand and sets it cautiously in the saucer. Her teacup is just to the side, sitting in a ring of milky runoff, the pale tan soaking into her grandmother's lace tablecloth. Scattered strawberry leaves, still attached to garish red chunks, discarded like a tiny pile of skulls on some barbaric grassland.

She would pour herself another cup of tea, but the pot is cold, and the cream jug is in shards next to the antiqued baseboard beneath meticulously restored sash windows. Instead, she wipes her berry-stained fingers on the ruined tablecloth and rises, bare feet whispering over bare boards. She steps out of the sunroom, onto the neat grey carpet of the parlor, and when her footfalls grow silent, she might as well be gone.

The note under the sugar bowl remains, edges ragged with haste, a mute affirmation of months of suspicion. The blue ink scrawl, square and cruel, rattles latches in the darkest hour of the night.

In the carefully-appointed guest bathroom, she puts her small fist into the mirror they bought in New Orleans, silver-backed shards sticking in her knuckles, blood falling into the sink. Just droplets, at first, and then the deluge.

Trust is not porcelain, shattered once but potentially reparable. Trust is a dam that holds back everything we would rather forget.

--
For the IndieInk Writing Challenge this week, Leo challenged me with "I trust you to break my trust in you." and I challenged femmefauxpas with "Please write a flash fiction story (600-1500 words) opening with a character stating, 'That's not enough,' into the phone and hanging up. There should be at least 580-1480 words after that opening. In addition, please ensure there is a clear ending to your piece. No 'to be continued,' no vignettes, no continuing characters."